The 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards went viral at the start of the show thanks to Seth Rogen, who took a moment before presenting Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy to grill the ceremony for presumably unsafe coronavirus protocols. “What are we doing? They said this was outdoors. It is not. They lied to us,” the comedian told the audience. “We’re in a hermetically sealed tent right now. I would not have come to this. Why is there a roof?”
A new report from Variety claims Emmys producers Ian Stewart and Reginald Hudlin are “still fuming” over Rogen’s decision to grill the ceremony over Covid safety. The producers confirmed Rogen went off script to make the jokes and expressed confusion over Rogen’s decision considering he attended rehearsals earlier in the day and knew what the safety protocols were.
“We have worked for months and months to make that a safe space,” Stewart told Variety. “We’ve worked with all the health authorities. We were signed off by LA County, we came up with a plan with them. Those tables were distanced. Everyone was vaccinated. Everyone was negative tested in that audience. And also he had rehearsed. So he knew exactly what it was. So, I just felt it was an unfortunate misdirect from [Seth Rogen]. Because it wasn’t just our decision. This is the health authorities’ decision as well, to say that it’s a completely safe environment if you do all those things.”
Rogen’s off-script jokes forced the producers to include a last minute addition to the Emmys telecast: Cedric the Entertainer and Reggie Watts detailing all the reasons the ceremony was Covid safe and even mentioning all attendees were compliant in ensuring they were vaccinated and received a negative Covid test ahead of time.
“It made three months of very hard work and many, many discussions to get it absolutely right feel a little bit wasted, really,” Stewart said of Rogen’s decision. “And then we just sort of played catch up. Because we wanted the audience to know how safe it was in there. We work in this industry, we’re desperately aware of COVID. I’ve done 50 productions nearly in COVID and not have people get sick. So, it’s deeply frustrating.”
Stewart also spoke out against “The Queen’s Gambit” creator Scott Frank, who was widely criticized for going long during his acceptance speech for Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie. Frank continuously ignored the music cues to cut his speech short and gave a speech that ran over four minutes.
“I don’t want to go through that again,” Stewart said. “It’s a simple equation. These people are professionals. They understand what’s going on, it’s their industry. It’s not a sports awards. So they know what they are doing and the simple fact is, they know there’s only a finite amount of time. I’d love them to be able to speak for half an hour if they wanted to. But we don’t have that time. So it’s a simple equation. If you think that you have to speak for four or five minutes, that means somebody else can’t. It’s just incredibly disrespectful to your fellow nominees.”
Head over to Variety’s website to read more from Stewart on the 2021 Emmys telecast.