Producer and director Adam McKay was nominated for four shows going into the 2020 Emmys, including contenders for outstanding comedy and outstanding drama.
His nomination for Netflix’s Dead to Me fell victim to the historic comedy sweep by Pop TV’s Schitt’s Creek, while Comedy Central’s Drunk History, which he produces with longtime creative partner Will Ferrell, lost to NBC’s Saturday Night Live for variety sketch series.
But HBO’s drama Succession, for which McKay is an executive producer, won seven awards, included the Emmy for outstanding drama. (McKay was one of 15 people who shared the Emmy with show creator Jesse Armstrong, who delivered his acceptance speech from London.)
He was also an executive producer for ABC’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons,’ which won for variety special.
That gives the Great Valley High School graduate two Emmys to go with his Oscar for cowriting The Big Short, which won in 2016 for best adapted screenplay. The film employed comic techniques to explain the forces that led to the financial crisis of 2007-08.
For McKay, who dropped out of Temple to pursue comedy, The Big Short was also the first movie he’d directed that didn’t star Will Ferrell. He’s since directed 2018′s Vice, which starred Christian Bale as Vice President Dick Cheney.
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In a 2018 interview with The Inquirer, McKay said projects like Vice and Succession, a drama about a media mogul (Brian Cox) and his fractious family, aren’t as far removed from his comedies as they might seem.
“People like to think of comedy and drama and horror as all these very different things, but they’re really not,” he said.
"Even when I did the kind of absurdist comedies with Will Ferrell, like Anchorman and Talladega Nights, believe it or not, those movies were tied to a certain point of view,” McKay said. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is “about sexism in the workplace, and Talladega Nights was sort of about red state pride.”