The producers of the 2021 Emmy Awards say they were taken aback by Seth Rogen’s criticisms of what he perceived to be the ceremony’s lack of COVID-19 protocols, calling the actor’s comments an “unfortunate misdirect.”
Taking the stage to present the night’s first award, Rogen appeared to go off script, scoffing at the “hermetically sealed tent” in which the show was taking place and accusing the creative team of being dishonest with regard to the measures that had been taken to ensure guests’ safety.
“Let me start by saying there’s way too many of us in this little room,” the “Pineapple Express” and “Knocked Up” actor said. “What are we doing? They said this was outdoors. It’s not! They lied to us.”
While it’s unclear if Rogen intended his remarks to be taken literally, the speech became one of the night’s most buzzed-about moments even after host Cedric the Entertainer emphasized the COVID-19 protocols in a follow-up speech. In a Variety interview published Tuesday, producers Reginald Hudlin and Ian Stewart responded to many of Rogen’s observations, noting the actor was fully aware of the logistics during rehearsals.
“We have worked for months and months to make that a safe space,” Stewart said. “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.”
Watch Seth Rogen’s Emmys comments on COVID-19 below.
“And also he had rehearsed,” he added. “So he knew exactly what it was. 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.”
Hudlin went a step further, stating that Rogen’s jabs “made three months of very hard work and many, many discussions to get it absolutely right feel a little bit wasted, really.”
“We work in this industry, we’re desperately aware of COVID,” he said. “I’ve done 50 productions nearly in COVID and not have people get sick. So, it’s deeply frustrating.”
Representatives for Rogen did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
The 2021 Emmy Awards looked vastly different the last year’s ceremony, most of which was held virtually, but were still a far cry from the glitz of pre-pandemic Hollywood. This year, the event took place at the L.A. Live Event Deck in Los Angeles instead of the Microsoft Theater, which can hold up to 7,000 guests.
Due to international travel restrictions, a satellite viewing party took place at London’s Soho House and was attended by nominees like Gillian Anderson and Olivia Colman.
In spite of their squabble with Rogen, both Hudlin and Stewart were pleased with how the ceremony turned out amid the pandemic.
“There was a feeling in that room of the industry supporting the industry, and people were genuinely happy for other people when they were winning,” Stewart said. “The people who attended were as happy to put on posh frock and a snazzy suit as anybody. They had fun in there, which is a lovely thing.”
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