Awards HQ Aug. 16: ‘Black-ish’ Free Parking, Emmy Fresh Air, Keke Palmer’s TV Guilty Pleasures, Mj Rodriguez Podcast

Greetings from Variety Awards Headquarters! Today is Aug. 16, 2021, which means it’s 3 days until final-round voting starts on Aug. 19; 14 days until final voting ends on Aug. 30; and 34 days until the Primetime Emmys telecast on Sept. 19.

Whoa how about that “White Lotus” finale, right?! The big question is whether we’ll be talking about it at this time next year. At least for some of the cast (Jennifer Coolidge, looking at you) and perhaps the show itself, the answer is yes (even if it will have been a year old).

But OK back to 2021. We’re getting there! Voting returns this Thursday, as phase two gets underway, and you’ve probably seen quite an uptick in events and pop-ups this week.

But not completely — as we mentioned in the last newsletter, the dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases, fueled by a rise in the Delta variant and the stubborn refusal of many Americans from getting vaccinated, is forcing a reconsideration of in-person gatherings. Notably on the Emmy beat, National Geographic canceled a two-day showcase at the Westfield Century City mall, given concerns about holding panels (with guests including “Genius: Aretha” star Cynthia Erivo) at this moment. Virtual is still the preferred avenue for FYC events that include talent.

For example, Variety’s Virtual TV Fest: The Nominees takes place this week, and includes fun conversations with nominees in the comedy, drama and limited series categories. Yes, it would have been better in person, but I guess Zoom panels are still what we’re having to do for now.

Like I said last week, as we head to voting, don’t be shy: Send me what you’re doing for your campaigns, be it a cool billboard, unique event or awesome freebie. We’ll be back on Thursday with a special bonus edition of AWARDS HQ timed to the first day of phase two voting, and you want to be here! Now, let’s get going!

ABC’s ‘Black-ish’ Will Treat You to Free Parking at The Grove (EXCLUSIVE)

ABC will promote its long-running, Emmy-nominated “Black-ish” on Wednesday by offering free parking to anyone who shops at The Grove in Los Angeles’ 3rd/Beverly/Fairfax district. The nominated comedy, which also earned nods for stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, among others, will host free self-parking for all visitors to The Grove in a promotion dubbed “On The House-ish.”

Patrons will encounter brand ambassadors on each parking level at the validation machines, near the concierge desk on the lobby level and at parking entrances and exits, including high traffic areas to make sure that parking is on the “house-ish” for all. ABC is also passing out 500 “Black-ish” shirts on the day.

Disney TV Studios also helped promote “Black-ish,” as well as FX’s “Pose,” this past weekend via free food at multiple food trucks around town.

Awards Circuit Column: Emmys May Benefit From Some Fresh Air, as the Show Moves Outside

I don’t think anyone, including the Television Academy, expected to be back where we are in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic. But thanks to the stubborn fools across the country who have refused to be vaccinated (and the new super-contagious delta variant), we’re back to a spike in cases and wondering what an in-person Emmy Awards ceremony will look like this year, and who might or might not attend.

This much we know: There will be a Primetime Emmys telecast, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, on CBS on Sept. 19, as well as three Creative Arts shows the weekend before. And the limited Emmy audiences will feature nominees and their guests, all of whom must show proof of vaccination before they enter. (Nominated teams will be kept to just four tickets.)

We also know there won’t be any Governors Ball events, and as far as we know right now, there don’t appear to be any plans for a major after-party by any of the networks, studios or streamers. There won’t be a red carpet at the Creative Arts shows, and only a limited one (with just a dozen outlets) at the primetime show. And there will be no on-site media center, just a virtual one. (Which means I’ll be covering the Emmys at home in pajamas again this year.) The TV Academy is still figuring out its peer group nominee celebrations, which will be small gatherings but at least one way for Emmy contenders to toast and recognize one another.

It’s unfortunate that the country has backslid to the point where the Emmys continue to shrink, and are starting to feel a lot like last year’s event. But at least it means getting out of the stuffy Microsoft Theater and taking advantage of vibrant downtown Los Angeles, something the Grammys and last year’s BET Awards did to much success.

Read on, as I write about how I trust Reginald Hudlin and the Done + Dusted team to once again find a way to make a unique show out of the unusual circumstances. And also some unique ideas from Kenan Thompson and Tracee Ellis Ross. The full column can be found here.

TV PICKS: Keke Palmer Reveals Her Guilty Pleasure, Desert Island Show and More

We asked Keke Palmer, Emmy nominated for outstanding actress in a short form comedy or drama series (for ’Turnt Up with the Taylors’) to share her TV guilty TV pleasure (Can be of all time, or currently. Cheesy reality show? Campy sitcom? Obscure public access show? Anything applies!); his “deep cut” (the show he recommends that isn’t as well known, past or present); and “show mate” (the show that, if you were stuck on a desert island with only one DVD, you’d choose to be the most important/most influential/best TV show in your life). Here are her answers:

Guilty TV Pleasure: “Love Island UK.” It’s mindless but also very funny and has some good dramatic moments. I feel British when I watch it. (Hahaha.)

Deep Cut: “So Weird.” It’s this old Disney Channel show about this girl with superpowers. It was super esoteric and interesting, lol.

Show Mate: Probably “Moesha.” It’s grounded and coming of age. It’s introspective and comforting because of the stages I went through when finding it. “Moesha” is also a wholesome show and I like wholesome things.

Awards Circuit Podcast: Mj Rodriguez on Why the ‘Pose’ Finale’s Happy Ending Is So Important

When Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez first booked one of the starring roles in FX’s “Pose,” she had a conversation with co-creator Steven Canals about how the groundbreaking series might change her life.

As millions of viewers turned “Pose” into a sensation, Rodriguez became a familiar face and a breakout star in the role of Blanca Rodriguez, a house mother who gets diagnosed with HIV. But major awards attention still took a little longer to catch up with the show’s critical acclaim. Rodriguez earned a Critics Choice Award nomination in 2020 but didn’t pick up an Emmy nomination until 2021, for the show’s third and final season. In landing that nod this year, Rodriguez made history as the first trans performer to be recognized in a major Emmy acting category. The nomination still catches Rodriguez by surprise sometimes, she tells Variety‘s Danielle Turchiano for the Awards Circuit podcast. Listen below!

Also on this episode of the Awards Circuit Podcast, “Cobra Kai” executive producers Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg discuss landing a comedy series Emmy nom, and what to expect in Season 4. And the Awards Circuit roundtable looks at the variety talk and variety sketch categories.

Variety’s Jazz Tangcay caught up with Visage to discuss how “Drag Race” keeps things fresh, plus her acting plans and solo album. They also talk about her documentary “Explant,” and sharing her story about her breast implant removal.

Variety’s Emmy edition of the “Awards Circuit” podcast is hosted by Michael Schneider, Jazz Tangcay and Danielle Turchiano and is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in television. Each week during Emmy season, “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every Thursday.

‘Hacks’ Brings Comedy to the Sunset Strip

Most in-person Emmy events seem to have been put on hold, as we mentioned above, but standing on top of a double-decker bus is perhaps still a safe, socially distanced way to promote your show. And that’s what the creators of “Hacks,” along with two of its stars, did on Saturday.

Outside the iconic Comedy Store on Sunset, HBO Max’s “Hacks” threw a surprise pop-up comedy set for the crowd waiting in line. Emmy nominee Carl Clemons-Hopkins and “Hacks” performer Meg Stalter were joined by creators and Emmy nominees Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniello and Jen Statsky, and consulting producer writer/comedian Joe Mande. A DJ spun music and then the “Hacks” team performed some comedy for the crowd. Universal Studio Group, which produces the show, threw the event.

Five Surprising Things Found In My Documentary: ‘Allen v. Farrow’ Filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering

For a new feature on AWARDS HQ, we’re asking documentary filmmakers to share five things in their Emmy-nominated doc that might surprise people. Next up: Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, the co-creators, co-directors, co-writers, and executive producers of Emmy-nominated docuseries “Allen v. Farrow.”

Dick and Ziering launched an investigation, led by co-creator and producer Amy Herdy, into the scandal, researching hundreds of pages of court documents, police evidence, home movie footage, private videotapes, original interviews, and never-before-heard audio tapes. After spending three years researching and producing the project, here are their picks for the five most surprising discoveries they unearthed, in their words:

1. Woody Allen’s defense strategy of reversing blame when accused of child molestation became the blueprint for predators in the family court system from that time onwards to today.

Allen, with his defense and PR teams, deployed misogynistic culture myths and patriarchal stereotypes to twist an allegation of a crime into a tale of a spurned vindictive mother who coached her child. Allen’s high profile success with this strategy caused it to become the go-to strategy of defense lawyers for fathers accused of sexually abusing their children. This aggressive strategy has led to decades of children being torn from their mothers and placed back with their offending parent who, more often than not, continues to abuse them.

2. Woody Allen had been in therapy for “inappropriate” behavior with Dylan two years prior to the attic allegations.

We were stunned to learn that Allen had been seeing a therapist for “inappropriate behavior” with Dylan a full two years before any allegations of abuse were made public; supporting claims made by Dylan, Mia, and family friends of having witnessed questionable behavior by Allen towards Dylan in the years preceding the attic allegation.

3. Mia Farrow is an incredibly talented photographer, cinematographer, and craftsperson.

Going into this we knew Mia as a supremely talented and versatile actress, but had no idea that she was also brilliant artistically in other ways. Her home was replete with stunning black and white portraits and photographs she had taken; an elaborate dollhouse meticulously crafted that she had fashioned entirely herself from scratch; exquisitely hand-knitted items; and a trove of home videos some of which were crafted films she had both shot and directed. Who knew?

4. Predators don’t just groom their victims; they also groom the persons around them.

We were surprised to learn that predators not only cannily groom their victims, but their partners, spouses, and other family members as well. Sophisticated and highly effective grooming practices like gaslighting make it exceptionally hard for spouses to trust their own judgement and call out abusive behavior.

5. It is common for child predators to only prey on a single child.

Contrary to popular belief, family predators will often only target one child. This is due to a number of factors, any combination of which may be at play. (A) They may have a particular preference for a certain type of child only (blond, blue eyed, etc.). (B) Strategically, they know they are less likely to be caught if there are no other children who could make a similar complaint (C) Isolation is a highly effective and successful grooming strategy. Singling one child out works in the predator’s favor as the child is led to believe they are special and have a sacred secret bond with their abuser; it’s easier to manipulate them into keeping the events a secret.

Amazon Prime Video Opens Emmy-Themed FYC Free Coffee Truck; Unveils Week-Long ‘The Boys’ Activations

Amazon Prime Video is hoping to caffeinate your Emmy vote via pop-up For Your Consideration a coffee truck activation around Los Angeles.

The mobile coffee truck, promoting Prime Video’s Emmy nominations, will be stationed around town from Aug. 13 to Aug. 17, leading up to Phase Two Emmy voting (which starts Aug. 19). The free menu will include espresso, cold brew, latte, vanilla latte, and cappuccino in to-go cups decorated with branding from Prime Video’s Emmy-nominated titles, including “The Underground Railroad,” “The Boys,” “Sylvie’s Love,” “Uncle Frank” and “Small Axe.”

The truck will travel to Hollywood, West Hollywood and Silver Lake from 11am to 12:30 p.m. on those days. Besides the to-go cups, Amazon will also pass out branded reusable coffee to-go tumblers (limited quantities, first come, first served).

Also, Amazon Prime Video has unveiled a week-long FYC strategy for “The Boys,” dubbed “Seven SUPEr Days,” which will include “Butcher Shop” sandwiches from chef Ludo Lefebvre (plus a themed “Compound V” cocktail) at his two Petit Trois locations in Hollywood and Sherman Oaks (limited quantity, 50 sandwiches at each location daily starting at 12 p.m.).

Also a “The Boys”-themed ice-cream truck will offer a menu of themed items including ice cream flavors, topping combos, and a milkshake; Homelander motivational cross-stitch art will be unveiled in celebration of World Cross-Stitch Day; Supe-themed classes at Barry’s (limited spots available per location for each class); and an 8-foot-wide sand sculpture recreating an iconic scene from Season 2.

Today’s schedule includes:

Prime Video Coffee Truck x The Boys Ice Cream Truck (West Hollywood from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.)

Supe Sandwich of the Day: Translucent (Carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, radishes, sungold tomatoes, avocado, sprouts, Maggi ranch, EVOO, lime on a baguette) at Petit Trois and Petit Trois Valley

Supe Workout Class at Barry’s South Bay (7:25 a.m.)

Supe Workout Class at Barry’s West Hollywood (5:35 p.m.)

See the full calendar here.

Debbie Allen to Receive Television Academy’s Governors Award at 2021 Emmys

Iconic director, performer and choreographer Debbie Allen has been selected to receive the Television Academy’s 2021 Governors Award, “in recognition of her numerous contributions to the television medium through multiple creative forms and her philanthropic endeavors around the world.”

Allen, a staple in TV and film for decades, was chosen by the Television Academy’s Board of Governors “for her unprecedented achievements in television and her commitment to inspire and engage marginalized youth through dance, theater arts and mentorship,” the org said. She’ll receive the award during CBS’ telecast of the 73rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 19.

Last year, Tyler Perry and The Perry Foundation were honored with the award. Other recent recipients include “Star Trek,” ITVS, “American Idol,” A+E Networks, Marian Dougherty, June Foray, John Walsh and the It Gets Better Project, co-founded by Dan Savage and Terry Miller.

Read the full story here.

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: This Week’s Promo Mailers

Smiles, smiles everyone! Welcome … to Fox’s updated “Fantasy Island.” Roselyn Sanchez stars as Elena Roarke in the updated series, which dives into the mystery of the spiritual island makes wishes come true. Liz Craft and Sarah Fain (“The 100,” “The Shield,” “Lie to Me”) are executive producers and showrunners on “Fantasy Island,” which airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.

“Family Game Fight!,” hosted by Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, follows the two as they fight over who has to take a bath that evening. JOKE. Bell and Shepard, in their first TV project together, join competing family teams and face off with each other to help their family teams win $100,000. The show airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET.

When you have as much shark content as Tubi does, why not lean into the shark trend and create a month-long “bitefest”? Among the titles in Tubi’s library: “Sharktopus,” “Sharkcano,” “Shark Attack,” “Shark Lake,” “Shark Attack 3: Megalodon,” “Shark Bait” and “Shark Hunter.”

Amazon Prime Video mailed out Homelander-themed motivational cross-stitch art in honor of World Cross-Stitch Day on August 13, and yes it’s going up on my wall.

Netflix Creates a Life-Size Chess Installation for ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

Busy week for Emmy FYC at The Grove! Just as I mentioned the free parking coming to the mall this week courtesy “Black-ish,” shoppers this past weekend witnessed an outdoor immersive chess experience tied to Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit.”

Not only could fans come and play rounds of chess or take photos with the huge chess board, but two young local female chess masters (12-year old Valencia native Rose Atwell, who is a Chess Expert, and 19-year old Pasadena native and MIT student Annie Wang, who is an International Master) held a demonstration as well.

Among other Netflix FYC plans, on Monday, also in promotion of “The Queen’s Gambit,” Netflix will pass out limited edition chess sets and a voucher for complimentary food and latte art by Carrera Cafe. Head to the Paul Smith pink wall on Melrose between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Also, from Monday through Aug. 22, an exhibition for “The Crown” will take place at NeueHouse in Hollywood. Costumes created by Emmy-nominated costume designer Amy Roberts will include the wedding dress worn by Emma Corrin as Lady Diana Spencer will be on display along with costumes worn by Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher, Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II and Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles. The exhibit is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at Neuehouse.

Last Chance Emmys: From Billy Porter to William H. Macy, the TV Academy Can Award Beloved Roles One Final Time

Television Academy voters aren’t necessarily a nostalgic bunch when it comes to sending off departing shows or series cast members with one final Emmy. Last year, of course, was a tremendous exception, as most of the cast of “Schitt’s Creek” — including creators and stars Eugene Levy and Dan Levy — landed wins in their respective acting categories, and the show also snagged the comedy series statue.

The Emmy record books are filled with worthy contenders who never got to taste a win for their signature series. But the award for lead drama actor has managed to buck that trend and allow performers to go out in a blaze of Emmy glory. Over the past decade, Emmy voters managed to squeeze out wins for the stars of some of TV’s most celebrated shows — just under the wire. That has included final season Emmys for Matthew Rhys (2018, for “The Americans”), Jon Hamm (2015, for “Mad Men”) and Bryan Cranston (2014, for “Breaking Bad”).

“Pose’s” Billy Porter, “The Kominsky Method” star Michael Douglas and William H. Macy, who has been nominated six times as Frank Gallagher on “Shameless” but has never won for the show, are among this year’s nominees looking for one last Emmy in their roles. Read on here.

Clayton Davis’ Emmy Predictions: Limited/TV Movie/Anthology Acting Categories

This week, we’re looking at the latest predictions from Variety’s Clayton Davis in the limited series/TV movie/anthology acting categories, ranked in order of odds:


1 Paul Bettany, “WandaVision” (Disney Plus)
2 Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton” (Disney Plus)
3 Leslie Odom Jr., “Hamilton” (Disney Plus)
4 Ewan McGregor, “Halston” (Netflix)
5 Hugh Grant, “The Undoing” (HBO)


1 Kate Winslet, “Mare of Easttown” (HBO)
2 Anya Taylor-Joy, “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
3 Michaela Coel, “I May Destroy You” (HBO)
4 Elizabeth Olsen, “WandaVision” (Disney Plus)
5 Cynthia Erivo, “Genius: Aretha” (Nat Geo)


1 Evan Peters, “Mare of Easttown” (HBO)
2 Daveed Diggs, “Hamilton” (Disney Plus)
3 Jonathan Groff, “Hamilton” (Disney Plus)
4 Paapa Essiedu, “I May Destroy You” (HBO)
5 Thomas Brodie-Sangster, “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
6 Anthony Ramos, “Hamilton” (Disney Plus)


1 Kathryn Hahn, “WandaVision” (Disney Plus)
2 Julianne Nicholson, “Mare of Easttown” (HBO)
3 Jean Smart, “Mare of Easttown” (HBO)
4 Reneé Elise Goldsberry, “Hamilton” (Disney Plus)
5 Moses Ingram, “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
6 Phillipa Soo, “Hamilton” (Disney Plus)

To see all of Clayton’s latest predictions, of all the categories, in one place, visit  THE EMMYS COLLECTIVE. Visit each individual category, according to the awards show from THE EMMYS HUB.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, Aug. 17, 5 p.m.: Variety Streaming Room: “Hacks” Exclusive Q&A With Jean Smart, Hannah Einbinder, Carl Clemons-Hopkins & the Creators of “Hacks.” Register here.

Wednesday, Aug. 18, 9:30 a.m.: Variety’s VIRTUAL TV FEST: The Nominees. Panels include:

Outstanding Comedy Series
Courtney Lilly (Director, Showrunner, and Executive Producer – Black-ish)
William Zabka (Co-Executive Producer and Actor, “Johnny Lawrence”- Cobra Kai)
Rosie Perez (Supporting Actress, “Megan Briscoe” – The Flight Attendant)
Hannah Einbinder (Supporting Actress, “Ava” – Hacks)
Paul Reiser (Supporting Actor, “Martin Schneider” – The Kominsky Method)
Debbie Liebling (Executive Producer – PEN15)
Hannah Waddingham (Supporting Actress, “Rebecca Welton” – Ted Lasso)

Outstanding Drama Series
Eric Kripke (Showrunner, Executive Producer, and Writer – The Boys)
Tobias Menzies (Supporting Actor – Prince Phillip – The Crown)
Aunjanue Ellis (Supporting Actress – Hippolyta Freeman – Lovecraft Country)
Steven Canals (Creator, EP – Pose)
Chris Sullivan (Supporting Actor – Toby Damon – This is Us)
Ann Dowd (Supporting Actress – Aunt Lydia – The Handmaid’s Tale)

Outstanding Limited / Anthology Series
Paapa Essiedu (Supporting Actor, “Kwame” – I May Destroy You)
Barry Jenkins (Director and Showrunner – The Underground Railroad)
Anya Taylor Joy (Lead Actress, “Beth Harmon” – The Queen’s Gambit)
Elizabeth Olsen (Lead Actress, “Wanda Maximoff / The Scarlet Witch” – WandaVision)
Kate Winslet (Executive Producer and Lead Actress, “Mare Sheehan” – Mare of Easttown)

and more! Register here.

Wednesday, Aug. 18, 5 p.m.: Variety Streaming Room: An Exclusive Q&A With Barry Jenkins & the Artisans Behind “The Underground Railroad” Register here.

Thursday, Aug. 19, 4 p.m. – Writers Guild Foundation presents Between the Lines, Emmy Edition. Nominees for Outstanding Writing for Limited or Anthology Series, Movie. Panelists include Peter Cameron, Laura Donney, and Chuck Hayward (WandaVision), Brad Ingelsby (Mare of Eastown) and more nominees. Go here to register.

Friday, Aug. 20, 5 p.m.: Variety Streaming Room: An Exclusive Episode Screening & Q&A with the Winner & Contestants of Season 13 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”. Register here.

Send Me Your Questions, Comments and More!

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