LOS ANGELES — “Schitt’s Creek” stars Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy won top comedy acting Emmy Awards as the ceremony kicked off Sunday, a sign that the quirky little Canadian show was having a big night.
O’Hara accepted the award virtually in the pandemic-safe ceremony.
“Though these are the strangest of days, may you have as much joy being holed up in a room or two with your family as I had with my dear Roses,” O’Hara said, surrounded in a decorated room by mask-wearing co-stars who play the Rose family members.
Levy called it “ironical that the strangest role I ever played lands me an Emmy for a comedy performance. I have to seriously question what I’ve been doing” for the past 50 years.
Moments later, Levy’s son Daniel, won the award for comedy writing for an episode of “Schitt’s Creek.”
Host Jimmy Kimmel opened the show with a monologue that appeared to be defiantly delivered in front of a packed, cheering theater — until it was revealed they were clips from past Emmy shows.
“Of course I’m here all alone. Of course, we don’t have an audience,” he said. “This isn’t a MAGA rally. It’s the Emmys.”
With more than 100 long-distance video feeds with nominees ahead, “what could possibly go right?”
A minor gaffe marred Saturday’s virtual Emmys for technical and other honors, when Jason Bateman’s name was announced for a guest acting award that belonged to Ron Cephas Jones of “This Is Us.” Other guest acting honors went to Eddie Murphy and Maya Rudolph for “Saturday Night Live” and Cherry Jones for “Succession.”
Bateman was one of the few people on hand at the Staples Center for Sunday’s show, sitting in the audience during Kimmel’s opening monologue. Bateman sat stone faced amid a collection of cardboard cutouts, trading jokes with Kimmel after the host pointed out he was there.
HBO’s limited series “Watchmen” is the leading nominee, with its star and three-time Emmy winner Regina King up for honors. “Succession,” “Ozark” and “The Mandalorian” were vying for the drama series crown.
“Euphoria” star Zendaya could become the youngest winner in the drama actress category at age 24 (topping Jodie Comer, who was 26 when she won last year for “Killing Eve”).
The producers of Sunday’s broadcast have said gaffes could occur. Kimmel is on stage at downtown LA’s Staples Center, central command for camera feeds relayed from 130 nominees socially distanced at home or elsewhere in 10 countries and 20 cities.
Morgan Freeman, Lin-Manuel Miranda, D-Nice, Patrick Stewart and Oprah Winfrey are among those taking part in the show, which also promises the oddity of a live appearance by an alpaca named Isabella.
Other recent awards shows, including the BET Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards, bowed to the coronavirus with a mix of pre-taped and live segments. How the Emmys fare may influence Hollywood’s awards season.
It’s difficult to imagine Emmy Awards more representative of their time.
The ceremony is live because of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. The nominees include a record number of Black actors and other artists at a moment of racial reckoning. And a dizzying array of TV platforms are jockeying for honors, including streaming services that weren’t around to compete in the last Emmys.
The creative Emmys that were handed over five days, culminating Saturday, underscore the point: awards have been collected by 29 outlets representing cable channels, streaming services and broadcast networks. So far, longtime leader HBO and rising Netflix are tied with 19 awards each, followed by Disney+ and NBC with eight honors apiece.
“The Mandalorian,” home of the character dubbed “baby Yoda” by fans, earned the bulk of the Disney service’s honors, seven to date. “Watchmen” has a matching number, with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” leading among comedies with four awards.