Variety and other trade papers have stories about how the rise of the Omicron variant has disrupted the “business as usual” atmosphere of Hollywood and the upcoming award season. It definitely feels like everything changed here in America over the course of about 72 hours. One week ago, people were making holiday plans with their families and RSVPing for Christmas parties and now, everyone is masking up and cancelling plans. This Variety piece shows that many are hopeful that this Omicron outbreak won’t be as severe, but Variety also has a bunch of interesting side-stories, including a blind item about two unvaccinated actresses. Some highlights:
Last week’s LA premiere of Spider-Man was a superspreader event: Days after the premiere, word began circulating that a top agent at one of the major talent agencies had tested positive for COVID-19 after attending both the premiere and Tom Holland’s more selective after party for about 75 people off Sunset. It fell to Holland’s team to notify people about the outbreak. The potential exposure to the highly contagious virus and its latest variant, Omicron, shows how rapidly the public health situation in the U.S. has devolved in recent days. It’s a dramatic turn of events that has imperiled the entertainment industry’s tenuous recovery efforts.
Cancelled plans: Social life in Hollywood had all but fully resumed in recent months with cocktail parties for awards voters, splashy film premieres and power lunches five days a week. But things are changing rapidly as one agency and studio after another discovers breakthrough cases of COVID within its ranks. “Last week, I would have said ‘yes’ to a full office Christmas party or a lunch or dinner,” said one indie film publicist. “In the last 24 hours, everything changed. I woke up this Thursday and cancelled everything.”
The blind item: Also in recent days, rumblings about two unvaccinated actresses have grown louder and more concerning — one up for Oscar contention in a prominent indie, the other the headliner of a December tentpole. The women continue to engage in publicity for their respective projects, some in person, which has alarmed the publicists and actors who are working the circuit alongside them.
Sundance is still scheduled as an in-person event: For now, companies are moving forward with plans to attend Sundance, which resumes in-person events in Park City, Utah on Jan. 20 after going virtual in 2021. But they are contemplating reducing the number of staff they send and privately acknowledge that many stars may not feel safe making the trek up the mountain in the middle of a surge of COVID.
The Critics Choice Awards: The Critics Choice Awards, which is being held at the Fairmont Hotel on Jan. 9 in Los Angeles, is moving forward with plans, although some awards watchers think the event may be revamped as an outdoor show. The Hollywood Critics Association, which is hosting its own show on Jan. 8 says it plans to have its party as planned…for now.
I think it’s kind of a good thing that Hollywood and entertainment media are showing that they can be quite nimble when it comes to public health issues. They learned a lot from the pandemic, and the move to do smaller, more tightly controlled events is very smart, as is the move to cancel parties and premieres.
As for the blind item… two actresses. One of them is part of a “tentpole” and one of them in an indie which is part of an Oscar campaign. For the indie actresses, my guess is one of the actresses involved with the “indie” movies out this month: Licorice Pizza, The Lost Daughter or The Tragedy of Macbeth. Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Olivia Colman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Frances McDormand and Alana Haim. Maybe Kirsten Dunst from The Power of the Dog? But I don’t think any of those people are anti-vaxx, and in several cases, some of them are on the record talking about how they’re vaccinated or pro-vaccine. For the tentpole actress… someone from The Matrix Resurrections or Spider-Man: No Way Home? Those are the two “tentpoles” out right now. I really don’t know!
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.