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ABC's Emmys boss isn't "bothered" by lowest-ever ratings, says he was "delighted" by fire stunt

  • Robert Mills, who's in charge of ABC's late-night, reality and special programming, points out that all programming is down amid the pandemic. And the Emmys for the first time, faced an NFL game and NBA playoff basketball at the same time. "The shows we're celebrating are fantastic, but, you know, Succession is not ER. And Schitt’s Creek is not Friends," says Mills. "I think some of that does correlate. And, look, there was a lot of TV on Sunday night. People were watching basketball and football. Beyond the ratings, it did resonate. Five, ten years from now, what people are going to remember is, 'Oh, yeah, that was during the pandemic when Jimmy was there all alone and they lit the envelope on fire.' Somebody like Zendaya, who's only going to get bigger and bigger, you're going to remember when she won that first Emmy. Maybe it's a cop-out to say that the fact that it's the lowest-rated Emmys ever doesn't bother me, but it does feel that we accomplished something that people are going to remember." As for sending out people with hazmat suits to deliver Emmys around Los Angeles, Mills says: "It was a huge undertaking, but it was really important, with this being the first really big live show, that we go that extra mile. So they did. We had people all over Los Angeles going to the various nominees, even though we really are only going to have one winner." As for the fire stunt, "that worked better than we could possibly have imagined. That’s what Jimmy (Kimmel), in his heart of hearts, was hoping would happen. Nine times of out 10 (in rehearsals), the envelope wouldn’t even light on fire. I’d seen Jen getting instructions from the stage manager that she was going to want to burp that thing several times. So, I wasn't nervous. I was delighted." One thing Mills would reconsider is stacking the comedy categories together: "You knew that the winds were blowing in favor of Schitt’s Creek, Succession and Watchmen," he says. "But with the amount of utter dominance, which was great to see because they're deserving projects, I think it would have been fun to be able to cut back to that Schitt’s Creek party throughout the night — as opposed to one after the other for 40 minutes straight."

    TOPICS: 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, ABC, Schitt's Creek, Jimmy Kimmel, Robert Mills, Award Shows, Coronavirus, Emmys