Oscars 2021: From masks to pink carpet, the COVID guidelines

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Pandemic or no pandemic, the present should go on — and with regards to Hollywood’s largest evening, Zoom simply gained’t lower it.

After pushing again the Oscars two full months, from the awards present’s standard perch in late February to this Sunday, the movement image academy is decided to placed on as glitzy and glamorous a telecast as doable — pink carpet twirls, teary acceptance speeches and all — whereas strictly abiding by the most recent COVID security protocols.

Determining how you can pull that off has been a monumental logistical enterprise for the present’s trio of first-time producers — Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins — and there have been some main bumps alongside the way in which. Right here, we’ll attempt to reply your burning questions on the way it’s all come collectively.

Are the Oscars actually going to be held in individual?

Brief reply: Sure. Longer reply: It’s sophisticated.

For the final 20 years, the Oscars have been held on the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, creating the spectacle viewers have come to like of A-listers packed cheek by jowl right into a single room. However on this very irregular 12 months, given the problem of journey and the necessity for higher distancing, the present will probably be unfold throughout a number of areas.

Most nominees and presenters will probably be at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, with each indoor and out of doors areas utilized for the night’s occasions. In-built 1939 in a mix of Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival and Artwork Deco kinds, the historic landmark introduced distinctive challenges for manufacturing designer David Rockwell; for instance, nothing might be hooked up to the ceiling or the ground.

Additional complicating issues, the Union Station will proceed working for vacationers throughout the present. And the present itself will probably be orchestrated a bit like a prepare station, with attendees rotating out and in of the ceremony in line with a fastidiously timed itinerary that will probably be given to them upon arrival with a view to restrict the variety of folks gathered at one time.

Different components of the present will probably be run out of the Dolby Theatre, whereas, for nominees and presenters unable to journey to the U.S. as a result of COVID restrictions, a separate hub has been established within the U.Okay. together with greater than 20 satellite tv for pc hookups for different extra far-flung nominees.

Whereas the producers’ insistence on avoiding any participation through Zoom sparked some preliminary pushback, as Soderbergh instructed The Instances in a latest interview, the objective is to seize as a lot of the cherished dwell, in-person Oscars expertise as doable.

“It’s the f—ing Oscars. It’s not a webinar,” he mentioned. “So we’re simply attempting to get folks someplace the place we are able to actually make it look nice. We wish all people to take part.”

Will there be as many attendees as standard?

No. As a result of public well being restrictions on the variety of folks allowed to crowd collectively, the visitor listing is way smaller than standard. Viewers capability at Union Station will probably be capped at 170 folks. On condition that the Dolby Theatre usually holds greater than 3,000 folks, many Hollywood energy gamers who may usually have been invited should watch from house.

As Soderbergh defined at a information convention final weekend, “I’m certain there are some individuals who usually could be attending going, ‘I don’t perceive why I can’t come.’ … As quickly as you open the door past nominees, their plus-one and the presenters, you possibly can’t management it. And in order that was not even a query for us. Like, that is the way it must be achieved. [Disney executive] Bob Iger gained’t be there. That’s simply the place we’re at, and that’s how we’re being allowed to do it this fashion.”

Will there be a pink carpet?

Type of. Should you’re anticipating the kind of infinite parade of stars you’d usually see, you is likely to be upset. However there will probably be an abbreviated type of conventional red-carpet goings-on throughout the pre-show at Union Station, albeit with solely a handful of reporters who will probably be required to face at the very least seven ft from interviewees.

“It’s not a standard pink carpet,” Sher mentioned on the information convention. “It’s a teeny tiny pink carpet. … A lot of these [red-carpet] conversations will occur. They’re simply going to occur in a extra intimate method among the many nominees. It’s a really small footprint for security causes, clearly.”

How about musical performances?

As a substitute of being included into the telecast itself as standard, prerecorded performances of the Oscar-nominated songs will probably be a part of this 12 months’s pre-show. “Every tune will probably be achieved in its entirety,” Collins mentioned on the information convention. “The inventive on all of them are distinctive and delightful. Everybody performing was enthusiastic about that. We’ll introduce these performances within the pre-show, after which within the awards, we’ll discover out who gained. So if something, it is going to add anticipation for the award later within the present.”

Questlove, who was introduced on because the present’s musical director, will function the in-house DJ at Union Station and also will be a part of the present.

What about different COVID precautions? Will everybody be required to put on a masks always?

In a letter despatched to this 12 months’s nominees final month, the Oscar producers promised to stick to the strictest security requirements, writing, “We’re treating the occasion as an lively film set, with specifically designed testing cadences to make sure up-to-the-minute outcomes, together with an on-site COVID security group with PCR testing functionality.”

Whilst COVID continues to upend life all over the world, it’s actually a aid to the present’s producers that numbers have been trending in the proper route in California, which presently has the bottom COVID an infection charge within the continental U.S. Nonetheless, whereas many, if not most, attending the Oscars are doubtless at the very least partially vaccinated at this level, testing continues to be required and attendees have been requested to stay to a low-risk life-style for 10 days earlier than the present, avoiding crowded gyms, eating places and the like. Temperatures will probably be checked on website.

Attendees gained’t be required to put on masks after they’re on digicam however will probably be requested to place them on throughout industrial breaks. Requested particularly about mask-wearing throughout the information convention, Soderbergh prevented answering straight. “Right here is our quote on that: Masks are going to play a vital position within the story of this night,” he mentioned. “And if that’s cryptic, it’s meant to be. However that subject may be very central to the narrative.”

On the subject of COVID security extra usually, Soderbergh mentioned the movie neighborhood has had “quite a lot of follow” within the final 12 months.

“This trade was on the forefront of making protocols to get folks again to work safely,” he mentioned. “I’m in the course of capturing my second movie throughout COVID. We all know how you can method conditions like this. It’s extremely labor intensive. It’s extremely advanced logistically, and it’s costly.

“There is no such thing as a universe wherein we’re going to ever put anyone in danger. And so we hope to mix security with a present that appears like a glimpse of what will be doable when most individuals are vaccinated and, you already know, speedy, correct, low-cost testing is the norm. So COVID goes to be there as a result of it’s in every single place, however we wish to put it as a replacement after which kind of transfer ahead.”

This all feels like a logistical nightmare. How is the present’s manufacturing group dealing with all these challenges?

It actually hasn’t been straightforward. Chatting with The Instances final week, returning Oscars director Glenn Weiss mentioned he threw out just about his complete playbook from the 5 earlier Oscars he has helmed and that planning for the present has remained fluid because the pandemic has advanced.

“Very truthfully, when it comes to the how of all of it, we needed to method it as a clean slate,” Weiss mentioned. “This isn’t taking out the template of how awards reveals work or how the Oscars work — that is creating from scratch. And in a very optimistic method, by the way in which, as a result of it truly is a bit of releasing to have the ability to lead your self and your group into a brand new route.

“I’s by no means going to be fully dialed in as a result of we’re all the time strolling on eggshells that one thing may change. We’re forward of every little thing that we probably might be however prepared for any curveballs that may come.”

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