Grammys Mull postponed as Omicron spread disrupts entertainment rebound

The return of the entertainment industry is being touched by Omicron.

Institutions that host large-scale awards ceremonies, concerts, film festivals and schmooze events plan to postpone, cancel or go virtual as variant of Covid-19 sweeps across the United States

Organizers of the Grammy Awards are considering postponing this year’s event in Los Angeles, according to a person familiar with the matter, due to the spread of the Omicron variant. The Recording Academy, which hosts the annual music industry awards, had yet to make a decision as of Monday morning, the person said.

The Grammys, scheduled for January 31, were also postponed last year due to Covid-19, from late January to mid-March. The show was also moved from its traditional location at Staples Center, renamed from Arena, to the Los Angeles Convention Center to allow the reduced guest list to space out. The Recording Academy is a non-profit organization and relies on the people who pay the most for tickets to the show as a major source of income.

Two other important Grammy-related events – the MusiCares gala and the Clive Davis / Recording Academy pre-Grammy gala – would likely also be out of place if the awards show were postponed.

Kicking off the year with a postponement of “Music’s Biggest Night” would mark the latest setback for a live entertainment industry still reeling from worker shortages, with epidemics canceling shows already complicated by vaccine and test warrants; and empty seats from no-shows. While concert directors for much of the past year have highlighted the success of outdoor festivals and fans’ eagerness to buy tickets for future events, Omicron’s rapid spread casts a potential shadow over their long-held feeling that 2022 will be the greatest year ever. for live events and a return to normal for the entertainment industry as a whole.

Several shows during the holidays were postponed as cases increased, including the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes and the LCD Soundsystem residence in Brooklyn. On the other hand, January tends to be a quieter month for regular concert tours. Many shows on Broadway have canceled performances at the last minute or completely shut down because the cast members are positive and audiences stay away.

Some executives say they are optimistic that Omicron, whose symptoms appear to be relatively mild, will wear off quickly while advancing herd immunity, helping to pave the way for a return to greater normalcy. But some major groups that were considering tour dates for this year are now looking to 2023, according to an executive.

Meanwhile, Hollywood executives and stars eager to resume pre-pandemic operations had plans disrupted by the spread of Omicron, which came just as the holiday movie season was underway and the spring awards season is expected to begin.

Theaters in Ontario, Canada, are closing indefinitely on Wednesday after new government restrictions were announced due to the rise in Covid-19 infections. Canadian gross receipts tend to be a fraction of the North American earnings of Hollywood studios, but closures nonetheless come as companies hope that the keen interest in hits like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” will grow. will result in more regular attendance than last year. .

A spokeswoman for Cineplex Inc., the leading exhibitor in Canada, said the move would close 67 of the chain’s locations in the region. They “will reopen as soon as we are allowed to do so,” she added. The move follows previous closures in other international markets, including Denmark.

While Omicron has yet to disrupt major exhibitors in the United States, some movie theaters have already cut showings due to a labor shortage across the industry, as well as a depressed interest in cinema since the reopening of the auditoriums.

Last month, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which holds the Oscars, announced that its annual Governors Awards gala – a party night for industry luminaries with honorary awards – would be postponed from January 15 to an unspecified date. The evening is scheduled to honor Samuel L. Jackson, Danny Glover, Elaine May and Liv Ullmann.

In addition to presenting statues to Hollywood statesmen, the Governors Awards are also a critical stop on the awards season circuit, where potential nominees can chat in a ballroom crowded with voters ahead of the awards ceremony. Oscars scheduled for March 27.

Another location on the awards circuit route, the Palm Springs International Film Society Film Awards, has also been canceled due to Omicron. The awards were scheduled to take place on January 6.

“We are taking this step due to the recent spike in Covid cases and out of caution to ensure the health and safety of award winners, customers and staff,” the organization said. A series of accompanying screenings associated with the event will continue, but will require proof of vaccination and a mask, the organization added.

The virus is also forcing a change of plans at film festivals, which have spent much of the last year improvising digital screenings to avoid crowded auditoriums.

One of the biggest of these gatherings, the Sundance Film Festival, will be held in Park City, Utah, from January 20. The annual independent film celebration currently features a hybrid model of in-person events and home screenings, and requires all living participants to be vaccinated with a booster. The theaters will be at reduced capacity, eating or drinking is prohibited.

Write to Anne Steele at [email protected] and Erich Schwartzel at [email protected]

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