10:02am PT by Scott Feinberg
Oscars: Academy Adds European Venues, Will Work to Cover Quarantine-Impacted Travel Costs
"We can just promise you that we will be more transparent from this point forward," Steven Soderbergh, one of the producers of the 93rd Oscars telecast (along with Jesse Collins and Stacey Sher), told this year's nominees during a Zoom call Tuesday morning.
With COVID-19 surging in Europe and other parts of the world, numerous nominees had expressed concern about their ability to participate in the April 25 ceremony, given the producers' previously stated requirement that nominees must participate in person or not at all.
The producers, accompanied by their COVID-19 consultant Dr. Erin Bromage of UMass Dartmouth, addressed those concerns directly in an opening statement and then a Q&A statement.
The big news: "hubs" are being set up in London and Paris to help nominees there participate in person. (The specific venues weren't shared because, Sher said, "We haven't closed the deal yet.")
However, the producers still encourage anyone who can safely and legally travel to the ceremony in Los Angeles to do so. This will require, according to Dr. Bromage, quarantining in compliance with Los Angeles County policies, for a period that can be shortened if guests (a) travel via business or first class, (b) are vaccinated, or (c) are already operating in a production bubble.
"We have built a state-of-the-art testing facility just for the Academy Awards," Bromage noted.
The added cost to nominees for having to quarantine in L.A., Soderbergh said, will be covered by "partners to the show that we have relationships with — airlines and hotels."
Those who can make it to the ceremony at Union Station will experience an Oscars unlike any other. "We've turned it into kind of a cocktail party, essentially," Soderbergh said. He elaborated, "Nominees will be rotated throughout the evening so we don't exceed the limit in the main road." Nominees who have been rotated out will move to one of two adjacent courtyards, where the pre- and post-show will also take place. Those "will be fun," Collins promised.
As for the traditional red carpet? "There will be red stuff on the ground as you walk past the [Union] station," Soderbergh said, but not in the traditional way. There will also be a virtual press room.
"Are we wearing masks the whole time, even when we are up onstage?" asked one nominee (who is perhaps getting a little ahead of himself or herself). Soderbergh replied, "Bring a mask. It's still in play. And as soon as we know more, we will tell you." He added, "It's that fluid."
If travel to none of the venues is possible, can people Zoom in? Soderbergh cracked, "'The Z Word?' Look, let's just say, we hope it doesn't come to that." He explained that the producers are working on making the ceremony as visually impressive as possible — shooting it in wide-screen, 24 frames per second, with an opening that "is going to make your knees buckle."
Added Collins, "This is the pinnacle. This is the biggest live event in the world. And there is an expectation of creative excellence … and one of the most important parts of that is the communal part of it."