Each year, the Emmy Awards celebrate the best in TV — not just on a single Sunday in September but over three months of schmoozing and glad-handing that provides a boon to the local economy. The televised ceremony and the many events surrounding it, including press conferences, screenings, luncheons, and splashy afterparties, employ thousands of people in and around Los Angeles, from TV crews, publicists, and stylists to bartenders, line cooks, seat fillers, and security guards.
While research on the show’s economic impact is scant, a study by the consulting firm Micronomics found that the 2012 Emmys provided $43 million in immediate benefits to Los Angeles County, including $2 million in spending by out-of-town visitors, $9 million from limousine rentals, wardrobe and event tickets, and $2 million from receptions and parties. With networks and streaming services now investing even more money in the Emmys, these numbers have almost certainly grown.
The Emmys are a perfect microcosm of the challenges facing the region, says Jay Tucker, executive director of UCLA‘s Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment, and Sports. “The entertainment industry really is the heart of the city. When we talk about L.A. — and really Southern California — so much rides on this ability for us to connect and create things in person. One can only hope this is not the new normal.”
Because the COVID-19 pandemic has made these large in-person gatherings unsafe for the foreseeable future, this Sunday’s virtual Emmys will be different for viewers at home as well as the many people who work behind the scenes to make the event happen. As part of our coverage of how this year’s awards are adapting to coronavirus health and safety constraints, we’ve profiled two of them.