“We wanted to do something that reminded viewers of the big shows,” Cedric the Entertainer tells PEOPLE of the opening number at the 2021 Emmy Awards
In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, The Neighborhood actor, 57, opens up about hosting the annual awards show for the first time and the ideas he has in mind that will make the evening a night to remember.
“We wanted to do something that reminded viewers of the big shows,” he says. “Two of my favorite Emmy hosts are Billy Crystal and Martin Short. We didn’t want to go Broadway with it, but we do want to do something similar to that. So we got a big, fun number to open up and show that’s got some sketches.”
“I love television, so I wanted to do these mashups of me mixed in with other TV shows,” he adds. “So you may see me on The Crown . You may see me inside Succession . I mean, these are fun ideas that we really want to have fun with. We all love shows and we wish, like, ‘Oh, I wish I could be on that show.’ And so here’s a good opportunity for me to do it with the magic of technology.”
In July, the Television Academy announced that the actor would be emceeing this year’s awards — marking his first time hosting the show.
For more from Cedric the Entertainer, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here .
“Since I was a little boy huddled up next to my grandmother, television has always been my reliable friend, so it is an enormous honor for me to host this year’s Emmy Awards ,” he said in a statement. “Throughout the roller-coaster of a year that we have all lived through, television has helped us stay connected as a society like never before. It not only entertained us, but as it always has, it helped to open our eyes, educate us, and hopefully brought about a better understanding of who we are as a people.”
“I can’t wait to take the stage to celebrate all of the great shows and performances that made us laugh, cry, dance and sing over the past year,” he added.
This year’s ceremony will also feature a limited in-person live audience of nominees and their guests, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Emmys to go mostly virtual in 2020. Jimmy Kimmel hosted last year’s ceremony.
“It just feels like, almost in a way, like the re-coming out, because after COVID, everything was virtual and now, they have kind of reduced the size of it,” Cedric tells PEOPLE. “At first we were going back to the big, magnificent, fancy night where it’s the night of the stars. And it’s still going to be great.”
“But with COVID, we reduced the size down,” he continues. “But there will still be people in the room. So I think that had me a little, say, nervous if you will, to think about like, ‘Oh, I’m the guy that’s bringing it back out.’ This is how we set the mark. So I think that that’s the only place where I feel like there’s pressure, but I plan on having a good time.”
The 73rd Emmy Awards will air live on Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS.
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