Selfies Get out of Hand at Critics' Choice Awards

Critics Choice designated photo area_Publicity - P 2016
Chris Gardner

Critics Choice designated photo area_Publicity - P 2016

It was all about the selfies at the Critics' Choice Awards on Dec. 11 — and not in a good way. Ahead of the CCA telecast at Santa Monica's Barker Hanger, the organization that sponsors the event — Broadcast Film Critics Association/Broadcast Television Journalists Association — sent an email to its 300+ members letting them know that following the most recent show (held in January of this year) the org had fielded a number of complaints about selfie requests. "We have received feedback from a number of publicists and agents informing us that their clients felt besieged by photo requests from BFCA/BTJA members," reads the email. This complaint is not a new one or exclusive to the CCA. The Television Critics Association recently dealt with this issue by banning member photos during the TCA Awards.

But the BFCA hasn't come down quite so hard. Instead, the organization — asserting that member photos and videos from the CCA are a "key part of every member's social media portfolio" — created a designated photo area where a professional photographer would snap posed shots with members and nominees. Other photographers would roam the floor of Santa Monica's Barker Hanger to snap pics but only if invited to do so by celebrity guests. "We kindly ask all members not to interrupt our guests at their tables for photos," the email instructs.

Not everyone followed the new rules.

The Hollywood Reporter witnessed dozens of selfie requests during commercial breaks. While some guests, people like Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Emmy Rossum and Ben Foster, were seen happily posing with BFCA members, others, like Jeff Bridges, declined some requests. La La Land star Ryan Gosling got so besieged by requests that a security guard eventually stepped up to block any attendees from reaching him at his table.

One of the most aggressive selfie snappers, surprisingly, was BFCA member Jackson Murphy, the teen who found himself at the center of controversy last year after tweeting a photo he took with Amy Schumer with a sexist caption, one that Schumer quickly responded to. One might guess that Jackson would keep a low profile this year after being allowed to stay in the organization despite the dust-up, but sources inside the Critics' Choice Awards saw him requesting selfies from many A-list guests at their tables. He posted many of those on Instagram and Twitter, including pics with Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, Emma Stone, Ty Burrell, Lily Collins, Joel Edgerton, Mahershala Ali, Jim Parsons, Warren Beatty and even Bridges.

As for that designated photo booth area, THR didn't spot any stars posing there during a 45-minute spell prior to the awards. CCA nominee Tracee Ellis Ross laughed off the controversy, saying that she's happy to say yes … most of the time. "Having people compliment your work and ask to share a moment is something that people don't get in most careers," she told THR, moments before the start of the ceremony, sponsored in part by Fiji Water and Landmark Wines. "People are so kind and lovely and if I'm not comfortable doing it, I just say, 'No, thank you but I'm happy to meet you.'" She does have one rule, however: "I do not take selfies in the bathroom. I draw the line there." BFCA president Joey Berlin did not return a request for comment.

A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.