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NATAS President and CEO, Adam Sharp, Shares Details On Digital Drama Daytime Emmys, Ceremonies During COVID-19, and Keeping Winners A Secret

Photo: NATAS

On Tuesday, The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced the hosts for the upcoming final two, of three, Daytime Emmy virtual ceremonies.  First up on July 19th is the Digital Drama Daytime Emmys with Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’s Jai Rodriguez presiding over the night.  Then look for The Real’s Loni Love to take us through the Children’s, Animation and Educational Emmy Awards on July 26th.

Coming off a successful 47th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards back on broadcast TV for the first time in 11 years, and doing it during COVID-19 where everything had to be done remotely was no easy feat, and it was no easy task of ensuring the winners names would not leak before air in a pre-taped ceremony. But, NATAS President and CEO, Adam Sharp, and his team put together some safety measures that kept the drama alive of just who would win come Emmy night.

Now, heading into two more shows, Sharp chats with Michael Fairman TV and gives some Intel on what to watch for and look forward to on these upcoming ceremonies and just how the CBS broadcast of the Daytime Emmys came together and much more.  Here’s what Adam had to say.

Photo: CBS

So, let’s talk for a minute about the Digital Drama categories.  How many categories will you be doling out that night?  The Bay took home Outstanding Digital Drama Series already at the 47th Annual Daytime Emmys.

ADAM:  Seven: Two Leads, Two Supporting, Guest Performer, plus writing, and directing for a Digital Drama Series.

My understanding is that the Digital Drama Daytime Emmys will be live; as opposed to how the 47th annual Daytime Emmys were pre-taped?

ADAM:  Yes.  That’s the plan!

Phoo: CBS

How do you feel about that?  It certainly can add some unpredictability to the show.  I think people are a bit more forgiving in the imperfection of trying to deliver programming during COVID; because they’re now used to seeing their favorite performers on Zooms or whatever platform is being used.

ADAM:  I think with the telecast, from a production standpoint, we certainly played it somewhat safe, at least technically – in that everything was pre-taped and so on.  With our near decade away from being on a network and in primetime, I think there were a lot of advantages to that.  The program moved really quickly because you didn’t have to keep waiting for people to walk down the aisle.  I think it was great seeing the stars in their homes as well.  It felt really warm and intimate, which is important for Daytime because it is the most intimate part of television.  It isn’t something that you binge for 12 hours, and then wait a year to see what they offer next.  It a part of your daily life and you make a connection to these people.

How do you feel the response was to the 47th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on CBS?

ADAM:  The feedback we’ve been hearing has been really positive.  I think people liked the feel of the show, the earnestness and that intimacy, and I think people appreciated the steps we took to at least try to be at as close to tradition as possible; in that a lot of people sort of rolled their eyes initially when we said, “Everyone is going to record an acceptance speech,” but then, I think when the show actually aired, and people realized the nominees still didn’t know if they won, the presenters didn’t know who won, the hosts didn’t know who won.

Photo: CBS

Is it true that the presenters also recorded different, “The winner is” versions?

ADAM:  Yes.  The presenters each did five envelope opens, and we internally used a video-sharing application across the production team, and there was a sort of going from government parlance – the classified and the unclassified system – where most of the production team could not see anything that divulged a winner.  While there were eight editors working on the show, there was only one, and then in the last day, two, editors who actually could see who those winners were and fill in those holes throughout the show.  I think that the fact that you then had stars reacting on social media in real-time to their winning, it brought some of live excitement to Emmy night, because I think fans started to realize, “Oh, my God! She really didn’t know she won.”  For example, Kelly Clarkson, who did a very emotional tribute to her mother in the acceptance speech, shared her reaction to her win on social media where you experience the screaming, and jumping up and down on the chair moment.

Yes, that and others provided some very real moments.  When I chatted with some of the winners via Zoom (immediately following the broadcast) those also were so were so raw, and emotional.  I was thrilled that I was able to do that and sort of emulate what the “Winner’s Walk” backstage looked like in a virtual setting.

ADAM:  I think there is a certain aspect that when you are in the auditorium with all of the lights, with everyone there, you’re walking up on the stage to someone, you are so aware that this is a performance, you are so aware of the glare of the lights, and the cameras, and so on, that sometimes it can feel like you don’t have permission to emote. I think in many cases, when people can be at home, I actually thought most of the acceptance speeches seemed a lot more relaxed.  I thought they seemed a lot more natural.  I felt like you were seeing much more of the person as opposed to the performance.  So, that’s something we are going to try to capture on the 19th with the Digital Drama Awards. The envelopes are being sent sealed from the accountants to the presenters.  The control room is not going to know ahead of time who the winners are.  That is going to be at show time to the control room, so they’ll be taking in these close to 50 live shots from around the country throughout the presentation of the seven-category show.  The intent is to do the as much the same on the 26th.  Every day is a learning experience right now.   We have 10 ceremonies to produce this year in the COVID context, and that’s not even looking at 2021 yet.  That gives us a lot of opportunity to experiment, and we are going to get a lot wrong, and we are going to get a lot right.

Photo: CBS

When people watch the Digital Drama Daytime Emmys on July 19th, is it going to be a quick seven categories?  Are there going to be other packages in the show?

ADAM:  So, because it is only seven categories, we are giving the show a little more room to breathe.  Even though we have already awarded the overall top digital drama the night of the 47th annual Daytime Emmys, , we are going to do a little bit of a retrospective of the season of all of the shows, a little bit more than we had time for in the telecast.  There be some conversation before the reveal of the winner. We are experimenting with a few things there that you can’t do in the stage show version, and you can’t do in the pre-tape, but where the live nature of it, and the Zooming nature of it allows it.

Then on the July 26th Daytime Emmys for Children’s, Lifestyle and Animation programming, how many categories will be featured there?

ADAM:  About 20-ish categories, and then another bunch will be presented on social media afterwards the same way we did the night of the telecast.  This is absolutely a bigger show because Daytime is comprised of a hundred categories, and we are not even halfway through giving them out yet.

Photo: CBS

For clarification for the fans who read this, what kind of categories will they see presented in terms of “Family Viewing” or “Lifestyle”, etc?

ADAM:  That is going to include several categories that were not on the telecast.  So, for example, we had Entertainment Talk Show Host, but not Informational Talk Show Host during the telecast.  We had Culinary Show, but not Culinary Host, a lot of the craft categories for those shows, so the Lifestyle block is very much Talk, Travel, Culinary.  Then, we have the Children’s categories: Children’s Animation and Educational Programming, we have the Family Viewing categories, and you’ll recall this year we added a Young Adult track to the competition, so that will be in that show as well and wound up being extremely competitive in its first year.  That was a category that sort of spun out because of the growth of the competition where you had these programs that were still designed for a younger audience.  They were clearly designed for a teen audience, so you wouldn’t put them in a category next to a soap, for example. But they were dealing with more mature themes, and the closest thing in our history was when we still honored “After School Specials” back in the day, but then that category went away as that type of programming went away.  Now, as it started to make a digital comeback, it felt strange to have a nomination that was dealing with teen suicide, pregnancy, opioid addiction … and then the next nominee is… Big Bird!  So, as this genre really grew and it didn’t really have a place in Drama, it didn’t really have a place in Children’s, and now, it’s actually become a diverse enough category to be very competitive on its own, so we are really excited to see that.

Photo: ABC

When you watched the Daytime Emmys, Black Lives Matter was certainly present in a lot of the speeches and moments.  You also included the clip when Al Freeman (Ex-Ed Hall) One Life to Live, won Lead Actor, being the first African-American performer to do so.

ADAM:  There was a lot of need to acknowledge the moment.  So, from the coronavirus standpoint, the whole format of the show was an acknowledgement of the moment, and then certainly in the close, Marie Osmond reminding people to stay safe and stay healthy and so on.  I think that there wasn’t as much of a need to lean in too far on COVID, that was certainly understood.  On Black Lives Matter, I think it was very much raw. It was something that had to be addressed and had to be addressed tastefully.  I think that we were successful in that.  I think the Al Freeman moment was also important there because it did recognize without being too heavy handed that Daytime has always been very much at the forefront on social issues, not just race issues like that, but certainly the first gay marriage on television, the first gay kiss, the first abortion on television.  Now, you look at the show coming up on the 19th for the Digital Drama, where we have the first two trans performers nominated for performance roles, the first drag performer nominated for a performance role, and so in every way, Daytime has been at the forefront.  If you look at the nominees, the winners, the presenters, the Daytime Awards have consistently been the most inclusive, diverse, equitable of the awards ceremonies, and we continue to do that.

Did you have a favorite moment from the Daytime Emmys on CBS?

ADAM: I think for me, Cookie Monster presenting Culinary Show, as he stammers on nominees, and it becomes, “and the nom-nom-nom-nom-nom,” and he eats the envelope, that was something that in the high-stress moments of getting the show together, I could always go back to that cut and get a laugh and break the tension of the room.

Photo: CBS

Over 3 million viewers tuned-in to the 47th annual Daytime Emmys.  Do you think they will be back next year on network TV and on CBS? 

ADAM:  I hope so.  We certainly beat the average for the timeslot since they’ve gone into reruns.  While it was less total viewers than the last time we were on CBS, that was nearly a decade ago where viewing habits were very different.  But I think over 3 million was a very good sign.  I think it was notable that when you watched the show, almost all of the advertisers were traditional daytime advertisers that followed us into primetime.  CBS sold out the show.  There were advertisers who were actually clamoring to buy that time, and they bought every minute of it that was available.  I think we were really firing on all cylinders there.  I think we reengaged with the community.  I was deeply touched that Patrika Darbo accepted her invitation to present because while it was more of a quiet nod to those on the inside of the community than perhaps the audience, I think it was very important closure to some of the past struggles of the show that both of us have recognized those errors of the past, but the community moves forward together.

Photo: HutchnsPhoto.com

You gave Patrika Darbo the duties of introducing the emotional In-Memoriam tribute.  Was your intent to give her that piece?

ADAM:  Yes.  It really was that we, as an academy made a lot of mistakes in the past, and she, through no intention or fault of her own, was the victim of a lot of that.  You know, she didn’t prepare the reel.  She didn’t realize that she wasn’t eligible in the category, and so she, by virtue of that, sort of was the one who then had to bear the headlines of the Emmy being taken away and so on.  So, it is impossible to completely make that up to her, but at least to recognize her and her standing in our community was something that was very important to do.

Photo: JPI

How nervous were you that the winners would somehow be leaked before the 47th annual Daytime Emmys aired?

ADAM:  I was afraid, but I also knew that we were taking every step we could to ensure that security, and in many cases to the point of absurdity.  The logistics of chasing down all of those acceptance speeches, the hours that our lawyer spend on the phone negotiating the leases for video that was never going to be used, basically giving ourselves, for most of the show, five times the amount of work that we needed to just for maintain that security.  Then, even when people did know, keeping that segmented so that nobody would know the whole picture at once.  It definitely brought back memories of my government service.  The most terrifying was probably the hours between delivery to CBS and airing, because that’s when you know it’s getting closed captioned, it’s getting put up on a satellite etc, but CBS are old hands at this.  They do it with every Survivor finale and so on and so forth.  They were great at keeping the secret for us.

So, looking for to the Digital Drama Daytime Emmys that will be live? What did you think about the information shared by Adam on the making of the 47th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards? Comment blow.

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SZima

I know a lot of people liked this version of the Emmy’s, but I IDN’T!! In fact, I could even say I hated it!

Everything was “CANNED,” obviously.
Everything was pre-recorded, and then edited to the nth degree!
There was no interacting between the hostesses.
There was no spontaneity!
The hostesses didn’t comment on,or congratulate the winners.
There was no suspense.
There was no applause.
There was no orchestra.
There was no red carpet.
There was NOTHING to make the show fun or interesting.
If they can’t do a normal awards show in the future, DON’T BOTHER!
I’ll settle for reading who won online.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Michael,

I wish you would have asked Adam Sharp about why they merged the Younger Actor and Younger Actress category into one category this year, only for five women to be nominated at the exclusion of some very talented and worthy younger male actors like William Lipton and Garren Stitt, among many others. I would love to hear the reasoning for why they made that change. It honestly comes across like a change that they made for the sake of making a change, not because there was a huge issue that needed to be corrected.

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However, this time, viewers learned that Sheila is the biological mother of good doctor, Finn and her entrance into the story (at the wedding reception for Finn and Steffy) threw disruption into the lives of the Forresters and for her the son she never-got-to-know that she gave up at birth.

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Photo: JPI

Now below, check out the interview with Kimberlin and Tanner.   For more celebrity interviews make sure to subscribe and check out the Michael Fairman Channel here.

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Ron Carlivati Talks on the Creation, Scenes & Cast of ‘Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem’

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‘Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem’ Stars Talk the ‘Making of’ the Limited-Series & the Moments They Loved

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Below check out the interview with Eileen, Peter, Charles, Zach and Rob and make sure to subscribe to the Michael Fairman Channel for more celebrity conversations.

Now, share your favorite moments from Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem, and this video interview, via the comment section here.

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DAYS head writer, Ron Carlivati talks with Michael Fairman on the creation and the making of the limited-series “Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem” currently streaming on Peacock. Leave A Comment

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