Not even Hollywood’s biggest night is unaffected by COVID-19, as the ongoing controversy over the 2021 Oscars proves. The Oscars faced considerable backlash for the decision to ban anyone from attending the award show over Zoom after rules were announced in mid-March 2021, per Deadline. Nominees like Viola Davis and Carey Mulligan would have to attend in person, despite the fact that, as of this writing, travel restrictions still exist in many countries and quarantine requirements would potentially bring “significant financial burdens,” per The Hollywood Reporter.
A letter from producers Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher, and Jesse Collins, which was published by Deadline, explained the guidelines to nominees. “For those of you unable to attend because of scheduling or continued uneasiness about traveling, we want you to know there will not be an option to Zoom in for the show,” they warned. “We are going to great lengths to provide a safe and ENJOYABLE evening for all of you in person, as well as for all the millions of film fans around the world, and we feel the virtual thing will diminish those efforts,” the producers continued.
So, what will the award show look like for those who do decide to show up?
Oscars producers are reportedly relaxing their restrictions
In addition to the Zoom ban, those behind the 93rd Academy Awards also ruled out casual dress, presumably to prevent its nominees from showing up in a cozy hoodie like Jason Sudeikis at the Golden Globes. “We’re aiming for a fusion of inspirational and aspirational, which in actual words means formal is totally cool if you want to go there, but casual is really not,” the letter told nominees. The producers also shared that their plan was “to stage an intimate, in-person event at Union Station in Los Angeles, with additional show elements live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood,” with COVID-19 safety protocols in place.
Since the backlash, however, producers seem to have changed their minds about a few key details. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the Academy is reportedly “loosening” its requirements around how nominees can attend the ceremony. Show producers Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher, and Jesse Collins have invited all the nominees to a Zoom conversation in order to share “updates about the show” and give them the option to appear remotely.
The 2021 nominations made history for their diversity: for example, Minari made Steven Yeun the first-ever Asian American nominated for Lead Actor. And with this new development, the record-breaking line-up of nominees might actually get to show their faces — even if it is over Zoom.
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