For those who have been paying attention to awards season during the COVID era, all eyes have been on the top dog of them all—the Academy Awards. From the BET Awards to the Emmys, we’ve witnessed the varied ways industry heads have had to adjust to a new type of awards show telecast. So, what about the biggest night in film?
The final word is in—no, you won’t be seeing the host (or hosts), presenters and winners awkwardly trying to unmute themselves on Zoom because the 93rd Academy Awards will telecast in-person instead of virtually.
“The Oscars in-person telecast will happen,” an Academy representative told Variety on Tuesday.
This year, the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences moved their annual telecast back two months to April 25, 2021, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sources inside the Oscars say that by pushing the awards ceremony back, the Academy hoped that theaters would be open again in the spring, thus allowing for more movies to compete in the annual celebration of the year’s best films.
But even if movie theaters stay closed, by holding the Oscars later in spring, organizers are now focusing their efforts [on ensuring] that the event continues as it always has in its live format. That may still create some questions as to exactly how many people are allowed inside the 3,400-seat Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, where the ceremony traditionally takes place.
“The Academy has done a walkthrough of the Dolby recently to see all the multiple options,” says an awards publicist familiar with the situation.
It’s not clear what safety protocols will be introduced for the ceremony. A representative from the Dolby Theatre declined to comment.
As time has passed and we’ve learned more about COVID-19, the protocols for awards ceremonies have evolved and shows have incorporated in-person elements in their virtual programming (such as the 2020 Primetime Emmys). Most recently, the 2020 American Music Awards and 2020 Soul Train Awards even invited audience members to watch live in a socially distanced and safe manner. As the 2021 Oscars will broadcast later in the year than usual, I am interested to see how their completely in-person telecast will be implemented. I’m guessing they may not pack the Dolby Theatre per usual and instead have a socially-distanced audience (with masks) and I’m also expecting there to be a much tighter and stricter press presence at the ceremony. We’ll see!
Variety heard from the TV side of the spectrum, as well. The Daytime Emmys (expected to take place in June and July 2021) and other National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) awards ceremonies have announced they will hold virtual shows in 2021, so they are not following the Oscars’ lead.
“The current timetables articulated by manufacturers project mass availability of vaccinations for the entire U.S. population by mid-summer 2021, potentially permitting a return to more traditional in-person ceremonies later in the fall,” NATAS president/CEO Adam Sharp said in a statement. “However, we have determined that delaying our 2021 events to possibly allow for a compressed calendar of in-person Emmy ceremonies late in the year would result in unacceptable delays to our awards cycle for 2022.”
The 93rd Academy Awards will take place on April 25, 2021.