The 2021 Emmys paid tribute to many late industry players during Sunday's live broadcast, including Larry King, Norm Macdonald, Alex Trebek and Michael K. Williams. The touching segment, which you can watch below, was accompanied by a live performance of Leon Bridges' "River," something that fans thought was nice in theory but when paired with some distracting camera work took away from the significance of the moment.
As Bridges and Jon Baptiste performed live on the guitar and piano, the images of the late honorees appeared on the wall behind them. In a few instances, the camera would cut away from the performance to fill the entire screen with the honoree's photo, but during most of the tribute, the camera was angled in a way that showed the musicians as the primary viewpoint with the photos of the honorees in the background, making it a little difficult to read every tribute.
Viewers took to Twitter to complain about the slight snafu with some arguing that it was disrespectful to the late actors, writers, directors, producers, presenters and other industry workers. "The performance was stunning, but my word the camera work for the in memoriam was straight-up disrespectful," one Twitter user wrote. "Whoever did the camera work for this In Memoriam... come on now. We don't need to see the musical performers. Can barely read the names," one person said. "Great song for the in memoriam, but terrible camera direction," another person tweeted. Someone else urged the Emmys to "do better."
As Bridges and Baptiste performed, images scrolled by of such greats as King, Macdonald, Trebek, Williams, Charles Gordon, Christopher Plummer, Cicely Tyson, Dawn Wells and Billie Hayes. Also among those remembered were three Mary Tyler Moore Show cast members: Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman and Gavin MacLeod.
As with every year, there were a few omissions from the tribute, including Emmy-winner Michael Constantine, as well as daytime TV stars Michael Nader and Jay Pickett. Also not included were director Richard Donner, actress Tanya Roberts, writer Larry McMurtry and actors Ben Best and DMX. Of that group, Constantine, Donner, DMX, McMurtry and Pickett are listed on the In Memoriam roster on the Emmys' website.