In what used to be referred to more commonly as “sweeps month,” ABC and Sony Pictures TV released Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’ on Wednesday. Given the running time of 90 minutes and a prime Emmy-contending May release date, the live special definitely qualifies for inclusion in the Outstanding Variety Special (Live) category. Additionally, Variety reports that stars such as Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, Wanda Sykes, Ellie Kemper, Will Ferrell and others will be submitted by Sony Pictures TV in the Limited Series/TV Movie performance categories. This also includes special guest Marla Gibbs who returns as the Jeffersons’ maid Florence. Gibbs never won an Emmy for her iconic role in the original run of the series.
The original run of All in the Family received 55 Emmy nominations and won 22 Emmys. The Jeffersons received 14 nominations with 2 wins.
Now, the big question this year is, “Will anyone actually be nominated?”
Last year, three cast members from Jesus Christ Superstar Live! received Emmy nominations, the first in the recent trend of live television performances. But those were musical performances from a 3-hour television event, massively hyped and celebrated by critics. Reviews for Live were strong as were overall ratings. Critics celebrated a live event that didn’t strictly target musical fans. And Jamie Foxx received much positive buzz for his comic flubbing of a line and quick jokes following it.
But the Limited Series performance races, as is the norm, feel incredibly crowded. Escape at Dannemora, A Very English Scandal, Sharp Objects, Fosse/Verdon, When They See Us, and The Act (among many others) all appear posed to receive multiple acting bids. How can the cast of a 90-minute live special compare against performances nurtured over multiple episodes? Particularly since many of the submitted Live cast members only appear for a short time. Sure the performances were fun, but do they positively compare against more dramatic, longer-term work? Likely not.
The best answer is to provide a live event performance category. Likely, there wouldn’t be enough performances to justify both male and female races, so why not combine the two?
Sony Pictures TV will submit the following performances in the Lead Actor / Actress in a Limited Series / TV Movie category:
- Marisa Tomei
- Woody Harrelson
- Jamie Foxx
- Wanda Sykes
The following performances will be submitted in the supporting races:
- Ellie Kemper
- Will Ferrell
- Kerry Washington
- Anthony Anderson
- Fran Bennett
- Ike Barinholtz
- Marla Gibbs