Oscar attendees won’t be required to wear face masks… kinda

It’s award show season. The 93rd Academy Awards will be aired live on Sunday night. The show will be held in different locations, including the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. The producers of the ceremony say it will look like “a movie.” We already know that attendees have been declared as “essential workers” so a live audience is permittable.

That is a vague description but it is likely a nod to the reason for the show – a chance for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to honor the best films of 2020 and early 2021. During a Saturday press conference, there was also a brief reference to coronavirus mitigation mandates that will be in effect, specifically the use of face masks. One producer, Steven Soderbergh, said that masks would play “a very important role in the story. If that’s cryptic, it’s meant to be. That topic is very central to the narrative.” What has since been made clear is that masks must be worn but not all the time. Attendees can take off the mask when they are on camera. See, the show is being treated as a television or film production, so masks are not required for people on camera.

We really aren’t all in this pandemic together – there are always loopholes for the powerful among us who demand them. I’m not sure exactly how this will come off on camera, frankly, because it sounds a little chaotic. During a Zoom meeting, Academy reps and nominees, and studio and personal publicists were given more of the details. For example, masks should be on during commercial breaks. Are we going to see the constant taking on and off of masks by the audience in the room?

The audience capacity and how it will be controlled also sound confusing. The audience at Union Station should expect temperature checks and must take three COVID tests in the days leading up to the ceremony.

The Academy also revealed that audience capacity will be limited to 170 people. As Variety first reported earlier this month, audience members will be rotated in and out of the ceremony. Upon arrival to Union Station, nominees will receive a personalized itinerary that outlines what times they will be rotated in and out.

That sounds like a pain. The attendees can’t be seated in one place for the entire ceremony, as they normally would, but must go in and out. The limited Red Carpet feature of the evening doesn’t sound too bad, though. The producers aren’t stupid – they know what attracts viewers. Lots of viewers tune in to see what the stars are wearing. Sometimes celebrities like to make political statements in their dress or accessories.

An abbreviated red carpet will include three photographers and a limited number of press outlets doing interviews, including ABC News, KABC and E!. International outlets will be from Japan, Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, Brazil, Spain, Mexico and Australia. There will be at least seven feet between reporters and interviewees.

Award show ratings are down. In 2020, as the pandemic began and then brought the country to a screeching halt, the shows were canceled. I don’t think, frankly, that many people missed them. They are slowly coming back now. Most award shows have been lame Zoom events broadcast as though they are standard satellite locations. They are boring to watch. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards were broadcast on Easter night and they were pre-taped. They were pretty much the lamest of all.

The traditional backstage interviews with the winners will be virtual this year. Winners will have an opportunity to do a virtual interview with Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest for “Live With Kelly and Ryan” and with Lara Spencer of “Good Morning America.” The show will be broadcast on ABC. It is expected to cost $40M to produce.

The pampered one-percenters will not miss out on their swag bags, though. That part of the event is back to normal. Wallet Hub has some interesting numbers if you are curious. The swag bags contain approximately $225,000 worth of goodies. Three more fun facts:

32%: Share of this year’s Oscar nominees who are women (highest percentage ever).
$2M: Cost of a 30-second commercial during the Oscars telecast (64% less than the Super Bowl).
$24.7K: Cost of the 50,000-square-foot Oscars red carpet.

I’m curious to see if this show follows the award shows that have aired before them this year, specifically if there is a lack of political commentary during acceptance speeches. During the Trump years, it was as though no celebrity or studio honcho wanted to be the one who didn’t trash Trump or Republicans or anyone in general who wasn’t of the far-left. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are in the White House now and just like that, political rants are absent from the ceremonies. I cover award shows for NewsBusters so I’ve seen the transformation. Specifically, during the crisis on the border in 2019, there were numerous celebrities who cried and yelled about “kids in cages” yet now are suddenly silent about Biden’s migrant crisis on the southern border. Funny how that happens. Even during the normally tame Country Music Awards, the Trump years brought country artists out who are in favor of gun-grabbing legislation. Now, even after some recent tragic events, the most recent Country Music Award show (held just last Sunday night) was completely politics-free. No one called for gun law reforms. No one is holding Joe Biden personally responsible for gun deaths.

It’d be nice if the show is, indeed, politics-free but I’ll not hold my breath. The left can’t help themselves.

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