Award season is yet again impacted by COVID-19.
The Critics Choice Awards, originally scheduled for Sunday, was postponed due to the Omicron variant’s rapid spread and surges in coronavirus cases around the world. The ceremony is still slated to be held this year, though a new date has yet to be set. The Critics Choice Association is “working diligently” to host the in-person production (airing on The CW and TBS), with safety and health as the top priority, the organization revealed in a statement.
The show was expected to kick off the 2022 award ceremonies, taking the spot of the Golden Globe Awards, which — though historically the most well-known of the Oscars precursors — is untelevised this year after being dropped by NBC following a scandal-ridden year in 2021. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, organizers of the Globes, will be holding some form of the event on Sunday (yes, the two shows were originally scheduled for the same day), unveiling the winners of the 79th Annual Golden Globe Awards from the Beverly Hilton with no stars, no red carpet, no audience and no press.
The scrutiny began days before last year’s Globes after the L.A. Times published an investigation exposing alleged financial corruption and ethical conflicts within the HFPA, a nonprofit. The newspaper questioned the 2021 “Emily in Paris” nominations — the fluffy Netflix show that wasn’t regarded as a serious contender (and criticized for its whitewashed representation of Paris), revealing that Paramount Network (the show’s original studio) had paid for HFPA members to travel to Paris for a lavish trip that included a five-star hotel stay. (Meanwhile, as widely reported, Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You” — a critically acclaimed series centered on the aftermath of sexual assault, created and starring a Black woman — was snubbed.) This led to further examination of the association’s practices and uncovering that the organization had no Black members.
“We all know that award shows are stupid,” joked cohost Tina Fey alongside Amy Poehler at the 2021 ceremony. “They’re all a scam invented by big red carpet,” added Poehler. “To sell more carpet,” said Fey. “The point is, even with stupid things, inclusivity is important, and there are no Black members of the Hollywood Foreign Press. I realize, HFPA, maybe you guys didn’t get the memo, because your workplace is the back booth of a French McDonald’s, but you gotta change that. So, here’s to changing it.”
Despite the various attempts to address the matter during the telecast, the backlash was swift. The likes of Ava DuVernay and Scarlett Johansson spoke out, demanding HFPA reform. (Attending the show’s press conferences and ceremonies “has often meant facing sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on sexual harassment,” said Johansson in a statement.); Netflix’s Ted Sarandos told the HFPA that the streaming service was “stopping any activities” with the organization until “more meaningful changes are made,” and, remarkably, Tom Cruise reportedly returned his three Globe trophies.
Since then, the HFPA has overhauled its bylaws, the organization said in a statement released on Tuesday, “implementing sweeping changes from top to bottom addressing ethics and code of conduct, diversity, equity and inclusion, governance, membership.…In October, the HFPA admitted its largest and most diverse class to date with 21 new journalists, all of whom were first-time Golden Globe voters.”
The Globes were always known as the Champagne-flowing, light and fun show that didn’t play by the rules, but sidelined this year in light of the revelations, its future remains unclear.
There’s overall uncertainty across all awards ceremonies this season, due to the Omicron variant; all January events have either been postponed or canceled, from W Magazine’s “Best Performances Party,” which was to be hosted tonight with Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquière, to the annual BAFTA Tea Party, originally set for Saturday at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. The Grammys — initially scheduled to take place on Jan. 31 (airing on CBS and streaming on Paramount+ with Trevor Noah as host) — has been rescheduled, with a new date expected soon, while the Sundance Film Festival, beginning on Jan. 20, has shifted to become a virtual production this year — organizers announced on Wednesday.
In television and film, critics have their eyes on SAG-AFTRA’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, currently set for Feb. 27 (with a simulcast on TNT and TBS), as well as the indie industry’s Independent Spirit Awards, slatted for March 6 (broadcasting on IFC). The Academy Awards, the industry’s most anticipated night — moved back from Feb. 27 to March 27 — will follow, if all goes well (airing on ABC). Oscar nominations are expected to be revealed on Feb. 8 (SAGs are revealing theirs on Wednesday).
All that said, it’s worth asking: given the new reality with the pandemic, the seemingly fading allure of Hollywood life with the public’s growing indifference toward celebrities and their off-putting social media antics as America faces the social, economic and cultural effects of a health crisis — plus already record-low viewership numbers pre-pandemic across all major award shows — will anyone be watching?