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“Where’s the party?”
That’s always one of, if not the most popular, conversation starters on a week like this with a major Hollywood awards show on the horizon, but due to an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic propelled by the particularly infectious delta variant, the answer this Emmy season is: Good luck finding one. And if you do, getting in will be even more challenging.
The Hollywood Reporter surveyed the town to gauge how networks, streamers, studios and agencies will be celebrating on Emmy weekend and found that the majority of companies are sitting this one out due to COVID-19 and the risks associated with large-scale gatherings and breakthrough infections. Those who are hosting affairs are keeping lists tight and logistics COVID-19 compliant. Absent from the 2021 Emmy party scene are Disney and its subsidiaries, NBC Universal and its subsidiaries, Amazon Studios, and talent agencies CAA, WME, UTA and ICM Partners.
Apple TV+’s plans were not immediately available, though, another popular query unique to this year is, “Where’s the party, Ted Lasso?” The Jason Sudeikis-starring series is primed for Emmy gold and has been forecast by awards pundits to capitalize on the show’s 20 nominations by winning in top categories including outstanding comedy series, actor, writing and directing, among others. So it would not be a surprise to see Sudeikis and the crew toasting at an impromptu bash to celebrate the streamer’s historic Emmy haul, should that become a reality.
HBO has, for years, hosted one of the most lavish and well-attended Emmy parties, typically with much to celebrate. The same could be said this year as the WarnerMedia-owned network and its HBO Max streaming platform scored an impressive 130 nominations. THR has learned that HBO and HBO Max are teaming on an intimate private reception to toast their talent following the Sept. 19 telecast. The COVID-19 compliant event is expected to be held at an outdoor venue with proof of vaccination required for entry and PCR testing required.
Netflix, which landed 129 nominations, already hosted a virtual toast for its nominated talent on Sept. 10, similar to what the streamer did in December when it presented a virtual holiday toast that featured co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos saluting its stable of A-list stars and creatives.
There will, however, be some in-person champagne toasts in addition to the HBO gathering. The Motion Picture & Television Fund is moving forward with its starry “Evening Before” event, which will be held this year in the courtyard behind CAA’s headquarters in Century City on Sept. 18. Presenting sponsors include Penske Media Corporation (parent company of The Hollywood Reporter) and retailer Target with music by celebrity DJ Michelle Pesce.
The TV Academy announced earlier this summer that its Governors Ball celebrations had been canceled, but the organization is hosting a viewing party Sunday night at Downtown L.A.’s Jonathan Club following four nominees receptions at its Lankershim Boulevard headquarters in the days leading up to the awards, including a performers reception that is expected to draw actors from Ted Lasso, Pose, Black-ish, The Mandalorian, This is Us and WandaVision, among others.
Los Angeles Confidential magazine is hosting a soiree on the patio at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills inside the Waldorf-Astoria on Sept. 17 with presenting sponsors Porsche, The House of Suntory and Baccarat. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours is required. Expected to attend the magazine’s event are cover star (and Mare of Easttown nominee) Julianne Nicholson alongside fellow nominees and stars of nominated shows Aunjanue Ellis, Bobby Berk, Brett Goldstein, Deon Cole, Erica Gimpel, Giancarlo Esposito, Gianni DeCenzo, Kenan Thompson, Laz Alonso, Moses Ingram, O-T Fagbenle, Peter Mackenzie and Ryan James.
Per multiple sources, explanations for opting out of this year’s party calendar require no more than three words: “Because of COVID.” For networks, streamers and studios with shows in active production, hosting a party filled with actors who may be needed on set come Monday morning could create major issues should someone test positive when they returned to work. That could, in turn, force a delay, lead to an outbreak or worse — cause a complete production shutdown — and that’s a risk few are willing to take during a period marked by heavy production. “Highly disruptive,” is how one source described the risk. Said another: “Shutdowns are expensive and no one wants to be blamed for that.”
Furthermore, the TV Academy with broadcast partner CBS has scaled back the number of guests allowed to attend the telecast, with only a limited number of nominees on site. Thus, nominees will be scattered across town at viewing parties or watching from home or hotels. Trying to corral guests after the telecast to a new location and asking everyone to re-test could create logistical headaches or add extra expenses to already stressed budgets that are feeling the burn of rapid PCR tests, not to mention the added costs of testing event staff across the board. Another issue: Revelers with young children at home who are in school and are not yet of age to qualify for a vaccination.
“I would love a fun night out — we all would,” said one industry insider, nailing the sentiment that seems to be widely shared at the moment. “Given the risk, it seems really irresponsible. There are really tangible risks and very little reward.”
Still, other insiders said don’t count out impromptu or under-the-radar bashes to be happening after the show, either at hotels, restaurants and rooftops near the Emmys, which are being held on L.A. Live’s outdoor event deck.
About those TV Academy events, the organization feted commercial, interactive media and motion & title design nominees on Sept. 9 and casting nominees on Sept. 10 ahead of the Creative Arts Emmy celebrations. On Sept. 14, it will open up its Lankershim headquarters in North Hollywood for a party to toast programs and writing nominees. Friday night will see nominated actors like Anthony Anderson, Kathryn Hahn, Billy Porter, Mj Rodriguez, Cecily Strong, Jeremy Swift, Juno Temple, Hannah Waddingham, Bowen Yang, and others, celebrate at the Academy’s Performers reception. The org’s viewing event set for Sept. 19 will feature a cocktail hour followed by a buffet dinner and telecast viewing with proof of vaccination required for entry. That event is sponsored by People, Fiji Water, Franciacorta, Ketel One, Sterling Vineyards and United Airlines.
Karen Wood and her Backstage Creations will be on site on the L.A. Live campus for the Giving Suite, a backstage gifting and giving lounge for presenters and nominees that will feature luxury gifts. There, participants will have a chance to autograph select items that will then be auctioned off in support of the TV Academy Foundation.
Like the party scene, the gifting scene will be muted but not entirely off the calendar. Doris Bergman is hosting an 11th annual luxury lounge and luncheon at West Hollywood’s La Boheme on Sept. 16 that will raise funds for Wednesday’s Child. Per the announcement, it will be an intimate, outdoor event. Also on Sept. 16, the Secret Room Events Style Lounge will take over the Petersen Automotive Museum rooftop for a “pre-red carpet” style lounge with more than 50 items in each gift bag, served alongside Rasta Rita margaritas and Double Zero pizzas.
Debbie Durkin presents her ExoLuxe COVID-19 safe “walk-thru-concept, “Endless Summer Festival,” at the Beverly Hilton’s Wilshire Garden on Sept. 17. The luxury lounge experience is set to host nominees, Olympic stars, directors, producers, influencers and other VIPs at the 15th annual soiree.
Gifting veteran Nathalie Dubois will mount another DPA Luxury Lounge at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel on Sept. 17-18. Dubois hosted a similar outdoor and COVID-19 safe event earlier in the year ahead of the Academy Awards that was a successful drive-up experience.
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