Host Jimmy Kimmel opened the Emmys on Sunday from an empty Los Angeles theater filled with cardboard cutouts of the nominees, marking the start of Hollywood's first major Covid-era award show.

"Hello and welcome to the pand-Emmys," said Kimmel, as producers cut to archive footage of a star-studded audience, before revealing the venue's empty seats.

Nominees for the 72nd Emmys -- television's version of the Oscars -- are beaming in remotely from their homes, with only a handful of special guest presenters appearing in person including Jennifer Aniston.

After last year's hostless Emmys, Kimmel joked: "You can't have a virus without a host."

The first prize of the night, best actress in a comedy series, went to Catherine O'Hara for "Schitt's Creek," who was handed her award by a presenter in a hazmat suit at a socially distanced event for the show's cast in Toronto.