“It made three months of very hard work and many, many discussions to get it absolutely right feel a little bit wasted, really,” producer Ian Stewart said of Rogen’s comedy bit.
The producers of the 2021 Emmys Awards are sharing their thoughts on Seth Rogen’s off-script comments about the ceremony’s Covid safety protocols (or lack thereof) — and it’s safe to say they aren’t happy.
In an interview with Variety, the telecast’s producers Ian Stewart and Reginald Hudlin expressed their frustration over the actor’s comedy bit, in which he half-jokingly pointed out the absurdity of the ceremony taking place “indoors” amid the pandemic.
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“What are we doing? They said this was outdoors. It is not. They lied to us,” Rogen, 39, said before presenting the first award on Sunday night. “We’re in a hermetically sealed tent right now. I would not have come to this. Why is there a roof? It’s more important that we have three chandeliers than that we make sure we don’t kill Eugene Levy tonight. That is what has been decided.”
However, Stewart said all safety protocols were approved ahead of time, noting that the tables were, in fact, distanced and all attendees were vaccinated and had to show proof of a negative test. In addition, the producer claimed that Rogen had gone through a rehearsal prior to the show and therefore was aware of the ceremony’s setup.
“We have worked for months and months to make that a safe space,” Stewart explained. “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.”
“Also he had rehearsed. So he knew exactly what it was,” he added. “So, I just felt it was an unfortunate misdirect from him. 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.”
After Rogen’s bit, producers responded by having the ceremony’s host Cedric the Entertainer and DJ Reggie Watts highlight the safety precautions, with Cedric sharing that all attendees were vaccinated. However, it was too late.
“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. “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.”
Meanwhile, the telecast producers also weighed in on another show moment that ticked them off: “The Queen’s Gambit” director (and writer and co-creator) Scott Frank’s lengthy — and seemingly never-ending — acceptance speech.
While accepting the award for Outstanding Directing For A Limited Or Anthology Series Or Movie, Frank delivered an unusually long speech, ignoring the several musical cues to wrap.
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Stewart told Variety that it clocked in at over four minutes in total from the moment Frank was announced as the winner to when he walked off the stage. The Emmys producer called the lengthy speech “incredibly disrespectful.”
“I don’t want to go through that again,” Stewart admitted. “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.”
He added, “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.”
Stewart — who has produced the Emmys since 2018 — also explained why he doesn’t cut off microphones.
“They just won a very important award. And also, of course, you don’t know what they’re about to say,” he explained. “That’s the problem with cutting the mic or playing the play off music over them, when they may be saving the very poignant thing to say to the end, and you’ll just ruin the moment for them. It’s a very tricky balance to achieve. What you sort of hope is that at least when they hear the music, which wasn’t overpowering, they’d say, ‘OK, my time is up, I probably should get off here.’ As I say, just out of respect to your fellow nominees, there’s just a thing called time. And there’s only a finite amount of it.”
The 2021 Emmy Awards broadcasted live on Sunday from the L.A. Live’s Event Deck. In case you missed it, check out all of the must-see viral moments here and click here to see the complete list of winners.