How Fil-Am talents participated in unprecedented Emmys amid pandemic

Yong Chavez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2020 09:46 PM

MANILA — The most poignant moment of the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, television’s biggest night, came when a Filipino-American singer H.E.R performed “Nothing Compares to U” during the in-memoriam segment honoring the stars who died recently. 

Her performance was staged at Staples Center while following strict pandemic protocols, including pre-show COVID-19 testing and other safety precautions. 

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This year’s Emmys did not have the usual red carpet and in-person audience. 

And the shot of audiences in Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue were old videos of past Emmys, but his comments about holding the show during a pandemic were all too real. 

“Well, hello and welcome to the ‘PandEmmys.’ Wow, you can't have a virus without a host. The big question that I guess we should answer is, why would you have an award show in the middle of a pandemic? What's happening tonight is not important,” Kimmel said. 

“It’s not going to stop COVID, it’s not going to put out the fires. But it’s fun. And right now we need fun. We’ve been confined to our homes like prisoners in a dark and lonely tunnel, and what did we find in that dark and lonely tunnel? I'll tell you what we found -- a friend who is there for us 24 hours a day. Our old pal, television.” 

The logistics of this year’s show was unprecedented. 

It featured 138 stars in 114 remote locations —in 10 countries around the world where the nominees are quarantining. 

Filipino-American comedian Jo Koy did a skit for the Emmys about interns in hazmat suits delivering the awards. 

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In reality, the responsibility of making sure that the show was done as smoothly as possible rested on the shoulders of this year’s producers, including another Filipino-American, Augie Max Vargas. 

“It was such an honor to be part of such an unprecedented event,” said Vargas. “These, these events are so dependent on live audiences. Being in attendance, and to be able to do what we did last night. It's just, it’s an amazing feeling to be part of that.” 

Since winners cannot be known ahead of time, Emmy representatives were dispatched to each of the nominees’ locations. 

One of the night’s biggest victors included Zendaya, who made history as the youngest best lead actress winner for her dramatic series, “Euphoria.” 

She dedicated her win to young people who are risking their lives protesting and speaking out against injustice. 

“I know this feels like a really weird time to be celebrating, but I just want to say that there is hope,” she said. “And the young people out there, I know that our TV show doesn’t always feel like a great example of that but there is hope in the young people. 

“And I just want to say to all my peers out there doing the work in the streets, I see you, I admire you, I thank you, and yeah, thank you so, so much!” she added. 

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Nominee Ramy Youssef posted a funny video of the Emmy handler walking away with the trophy when he lost to “Schitt’s Creek” creator and star Eugene Levy, who was the best comedy actor winner. 

Reflecting the times, many of the presenters wore shirts about Black Lives Matter and Breonna Taylor, including Best Drama Actress for “Watchmen” Regina King. 

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The night’s top winners included “Schitt’s Creek,” which swept the comedy category and the HBO series “Succession,” which won several awards in the drama category. 

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