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By Nichola Groom
Sept 20 (Reuters) - The Emmy Awards aired as a live, virtual ceremony on Sunday, bringing Hollywood television stars together, distantly, through a giant would-be Zoom call with host Jimmy Kimmel.
The ceremony, which was forced to make major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic, aired on ABC without the typical celebrity audience or red carpet. Just a few live presenters, including Jennifer Aniston and an alpaca, appeared in the same space as Kimmel.
Instead, nominees were streamed from inside their homes with friends and family members, or at small gatherings, seated a safe distance apart from their castmates.
"You know how hard it is to try to get your parents to FaceTime?" Kimmel joked as he kicked off the show against a backdrop showing livestreams from the 100 award nominees. "Multiply that by a lot."
As Kimmel cracked jokes during his opening monologue, cameras cut to scenes of celebrities laughing in the audience during previous Emmy ceremonies.
"Of course we don't have an audience," Kimmel said, contrasting the stripped-down Emmy's to the in-person "Make America Great Again" campaign events of President Donald Trump. "This isn't a MAGA rally, it's the Emmys."
The cameras showed Kimmel inside an empty Staples Center arena with a few cardboard cutouts of TV stars, similar to the ones being used to fill empty seats at Major League Baseball games.
With live feeds directly to the nominees, presenters in black-tuxedo hazmat suits handed the awards to the winners. The show also used prerecorded profiles of essential workers, including a high school teacher and a nurse, to present several awards.
Some of the nominees donned formal attire, including the cast of the winning comedy series "Schitt's Creek," who appeared together at an event space in Toronto. Tables were spaced apart, and many of the gathering's attendees wore black masks.
Other nominees were casually lounging at home, including actress Regina King, who won the Emmy for best actress in a limited series for her role in HBO's "Watchmen."
"This is so freaking weird," King said as she accepted her award sitting in an armchair while wearing a pink suit and a black T-shirt emblazoned with the face of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed by police in her Louisville, Kentucky, home earlier this year.
In an interview after winning her award, King said she had been more nervous accepting the award at home.
"I like the real awards better," King said. "Not that these are fake; I don't know what to call it." (Reporting by Nichola Groom; additional reporting by Lisa Richwine and Jill Serjeant; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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