Inside the Emmys Ceremony: Lizzo’s Magnetism, Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Kids, the Slap Warning and Other Moments You Didn’t See on TV

Attendees of the 2022 Emmy Awards came away from the show with a new understanding of the supernova that is Lizzo.

The multi-faceted artist, who ended the night as an Emmy winner for her Amazon Prime Video reality series “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls,” cut quite a figure through the Microsoft Theater. Her fire-engine red tulle dress ran the length of a city block, extending out in all directions with the help of many hoops. During commercial breaks, photographers and Emmy-goers crowded around Lizzo‘s table to snap pics at such a furious pace that it looked like a strobe light to those who weren’t on the floor as part of the unusual ballroom-style seating for nominees and their entourages.

Moreover, Lizzo brought the party up the Loge level where a cheering section of “Big Grrrls” performers and producers kept spirits lively by chanting lyrics to her hit “About Damn Time.” And they erupted with shouts and squeals of joy when the series won for reality competition series. Those that didn’t go down to accept the prize were dancing (and shouting) in the aisles. Television Academy chairman Frank Scherma followed her on stage to introduce the Governors Award for Geena Davis, but all eyes followed Lizzo and her red sea of a dress as she made her way through the crowd back to her table.

Others who generated a big response from the room include presenters Oprah Winfrey, Ariana DeBose, Pete Davidson and Selma Blair. “Ozark,” “Severance” and “Yellowjackets” had big cheering sections. “Abbott Elementary” and “Ted Lasso” (both produced by Warner Bros. TV) also had a healthy competition going on in the room. “We love you Quinta!” rang out just as the winner for comedy series writing was unveiled to be “Abbott Elementary” creator/star/showrunner Quinta Brunson. Read on for more moments you didn’t see on TV during the 2022 Emmys.

Fair Warning

The night began with a public service announcement from a production team member as the clock ticked down to the 5 p.m. PT start time. Emmy producers Reginald Hudlin and Done + Dusted made a point of addressing the elephant in the glitzy room with a warning for anyone who had a notion of delivering a sequel to The Slap that dominated the Academy Awards telecast in March. “If you come up on this stage, your ass will be severely beaten,” warmup comic Chris Spencer told the crowd. “Six MMA fighters are strategically placed in the audience” and ready to spring into against any threats, he added.

Keen on Keaton

Michael Keaton‘s win for “Dopesick” got the night off to a strong start — and an F-bomb — with a speech that everyone wanted to hear. And Keaton didn’t disappoint with emotional remarks from the heart about his own career trajectory and love for the industry. “I fuckin’ love you, man,” he said to his colleagues with a catch in his voice. Meanwhile, the roar of applause for Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder, the “Hacks” stars who followed Keaton on stage to present an award, foreshadowed Smart’s win later in the night for lead comedy actress.

Proud of Mom

When “Abbott Elementary” star Sheryl Lee Ralph took home her first Emmy award for best supporting actress, her daughter Ivy-Victoria Maurice and son Etienne Maurice shot out of their seats, screaming, crying and getting emotional as they yelled “We love you, mommy!” Not only were they hugging and jumping up and down for their mother as she sang during her speech (and thanked them), they stayed in a tight embrace throughout the commercial break. The outpouring of emotion by the siblings, who both wore bright orange formalwear, spoke volumes about their mother and family bonds. And it reinforced the best aspect of awards competition, which is to throw the spotlight on deserving performers at all stages of their careers.

All Eyes on Lizzo

Throughout the night, Lizzo was at the center of the ballroom — in part because her gown took multiple people to carry, but mostly because she was a winner everyone wanted to meet. Zendaya was spotted snapping selfies with the “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” host. Lizzo took home the award for outstanding competition series — beating out “Rupaul’s Drag Race,” which has won the last four years in a row — and the crowd sang along to the lyrics of “About Damn Time” after her win.

Full Commitment

Following Will Arnett and Jimmy Kimmel‘s bit, during which Kimmel laid in the middle of the floor while the pair presented Quinta Brunson with the Emmy for comedy writing, the show cut to a commercial break. Still, Kimmel didn’t break — he continued to lay on the floor well into the evening. (He was later up and wandering around during the Disney post-party.) But by many accounts, the bit didn’t work well on TV and it didn’t play well in the room, either.

Casey, Franny, Nora

A trio of HBO executives — Casey Bloys, Francesca Orsi and Nora Skinner — won the executive mentions derby from winners. “White Lotus” chief Mike White, limited supporting actor winner Murray Bartlett, variety special winner Jerrod Carmichael and “Succession” creator Jesse Armstrong were among those who name-checked HBO’s top content executives. Bartlett also got huge applause in the room when he shouted-out “My P-Town family” when he won for “White Lotus.”

Herding Cats

The table-seating arrangement encouraged more milling about during commercial breaks than is typically seen at an auditorium-style Emmys ceremony. The voiceover announcers became more plaintive as the night wore on in begging people to “please sit down” before the live NBC telecast resumed. But those pleas were mostly ignored. The crowd movement and the noise level grew with each commercial break. By the end, Emmy-goers were sprinting to get back to their tables. The modular, immersive stage was definitely designed for the telecast audience, not the ticket holders in Microsoft Theater.

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