Jimmy Kimmel walked on stage to open the 2020 Emmys at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday and the celebrities that packed the arena burst into raucous cheers and applause.
“Welcome to the Pand-Emmys!” Kimmel said. “Wow, it’s great to finally see people again.”
Of course, almost no one was there with Kimmel. The people were being seen were clips from previous years, and then it was revealed that the audience was mainly cardboard cutouts. And Jason Bateman — but more on him later.
The 2020 Emmys are taking place in virtual fashion with live feeds to more than 100 hundred locations where nominees waited — home alone or in small groups — to find out whether they’d won an award in this most unusual year.
“You know what they say, you can’t have a virus without a host,” Kimmel joked about the need for him to be there in person.
After a spiel about how TV has been one of the best escapes during a global pandemic, and a year packed with “division, injustice, disease, zoom school, disaster and death,” he made the case for “our old pal television” providing comfort and distraction amid all the gloom and doom.
Kimmel didn’t reveal that the audience shots were from years past until one of the shots caught him in the audience clapping at the joke he’d just made on stage.
“That would mean that I’m up here all alone,” he acknowledged. “Just like prom night. Of course, I’m here all alone; of course, we don’t have an audience. This isn’t a MAGA rally this is the Emmys.”
He then said the Emmys would take a cue from baseball, with cardboard cutouts of nominees in the seats as the camera panned past said nominees until it veered back to a very real Jason Bateman, nominated this year for “Ozark.”
“It’s ritzy, you know,” Bateman explained. “I want to eat shrimp with the cast of “The Crown.” I want Mario Lopez to ask me about my pants.”
When told he could stay only if he promised to laugh at all of Kimmel’s jokes, Bateman was out.