Defunct streamer Quibi wins its final Emmy Award for J.B. Smoove

Beloved “Curb Your Enthusiasm” actor and comic J.B. Smoove won his first-ever Emmy Award this year thanks to his work on a short-form comedy from the long-defunct streaming platform Quibi.

Smoove was honored with Best Actor in a Short-Form Comedy or Drama Series for his performance on “Mapleworth Murders,” one of the Quibi shows that has since moved to Roku after the failed network dissolved. It marked the only Emmy Award given to Quibi at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys ceremony. Overall, the former streamer earned three total Emmy Awards in its short lifespan, all for acting. (Last year, Jasmine Cephas Jones and Laurence Fishburne won Emmys for the show “#FreeRayshawn.”)

“You know, you almost wish it was longer. I almost wish it was longer, but in wishing it was longer, is it as effective?” Smoove previously told Gold Derby. “This right here, it’s very calculated, very precise in the joke writing, very precise in their performances, which resonates more with you and you remember more.”

Quibi launched in the spring of 2020 to much ballyhoo after months of buzz, but the venture — founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg — quickly flamed out. By October of last year, just six months after its debut, the company announced it would shut down. 

Led by a roster of major talent, including stars like Anna Kendrick, Christoph Waltz, Chrissy Teigen, Fishburne, Jones, and Sophie Turner, not to mention filmmakers such as Steven Soderbergh and Steven Spielberg, Quibi sought to turn short-form videos that flourish on social media platforms like TikTok into high-production affairs.

“This will be an alternative for them that is Hollywood-quality production with different ways to tell stories, with different caliber of storytelling, different production values,” company CEO Meg Whitman once said. Quibi initially was only available on mobile devices and designed for people to watch during their commutes or while out of the house (perhaps, in the ideal scenario, someone who wanted to watch a Quibi program could do so while waiting in line at the grocery store). But its launch happened in April 2020 as the world dealt with the earliest stages of the coronavirus pandemic — a time when millions of Americans were quarantined at home and most major cities had completely shut down.

Whether the pandemic ultimately was to blame for its failed debut, the numbers were stark: Quibi dropped out of the top 50 most downloaded free iPhone apps after its first week and never recovered. “I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus,” Katzenberg said in May of last year, a month after the debut. “Everything. But we own it.”

In the end, however, Quibi was forced to shut down. “Quibi was a big idea and there was no one who wanted to make a success of it more than we did,” Katzenberg and Whitman said in a statement in October. “Our failure was not for lack of trying; we’ve considered and exhausted every option available to us.”

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