Hollywood Critics Association Cancels Sunday’s In-Person TV Awards, Shifts to Virtual on Aug. 29 (EXCLUSIVE)

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The Hollywood Critics Assn. has scrapped its in-person HCA TV Awards, and will instead move the first-ever ceremony to a virtual event a week later.

HCA chairman Scott Menzel said the decision was made due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County and the US. Instead, the show will stream on the HCA’s official YouTube channel at 5 p.m. on Aug. 29.

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“We spent the last two weeks going back and forth, seeing if the cases went down, and it’s just not going,” Menzel said. “Everything just seems to be on an upward tick. The most important thing for any event like this is that we have to look at the people in attendance and we decided this morning. I know that this seems like a last minute decision but given the numbers and how badly it’s been impacting the industry, this just seemed like the best route to go.”

The HCA TV Awards were scheduled to be held this Sunday, Aug. 22 in an outdoor space at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, with attendees required to pass a free rapid COVID test on the premises and show proof of vaccination. That was already a shift from the original indoor ceremony to be held at Avalon Hollywood.

Menzel added that he hoped to be back to an in-person ceremony for the HCA’s film awards in 2022. Meanwhile, the decision to push the virtual show back a week was meant to allow the HCA time to put together a virtual show that includes a mix of live and pre-taped elements.

“We want to take this extra week now to prepare and provide the best virtual event possible,” he said. “It’s been an emotional roller coaster, there’s about six of us and who have been working on this pretty much day and night.”

Menzel said the cancellation will cause a financial hit for the HCA, but he hopes to recover. “It hurts everyone. Everyone’s kind of losing… These are little road bumps that will ultimately hurt us, but we’ll recover. I’m hopeful.”

Meanwhile, the HCA revealed several honors that will be handed out during the now-virtual show, including honorary awards for “Bo Burnham: Inside” creator and star Bo Burnham (the “virtuoso award”), “Grace & Frankie” creator and “Friends” co-creator Marta Kauffman (“TV icon award”), “Lucifer” star Tom Ellis (“pop icon award”), Netflix series “Cobra Kai” (“legacy award”), NBC drama “New Amsterdam” (“impact award”) and NBC’s recently canceled “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (spotlight award).

“These special awards celebrate shows and talent that deserve recognition and the selected recipients are a perfect addition to what is an already impressive list of nominees,” Menzel said. “The Virtuoso, TV Icon, Pop Icon, Impact, Legacy, and Spotlight awards will be presented during the ceremony with a special video tribute highlighting each honoree.”

The HCA TV Awards joins a growing number of events that have been forced to rethink their plans in the light of the rise in COVID-19 cases. The African American Film Critics Association also recently scrapped its planned in-person ceremony for the 3rd annual AAFCA TV Honors, and will instead now take place as a virtual event.

The AAFCA TV Honors virtual ceremony takes place on Saturday, Aug. 21 at 4 p.m. PT. The show had been previously slated for the California Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey, with a 50 percent audience capacity.

Now, all eyes continue to be on the Television Academy, which is still planning a limited in-person Emmys — but last week it, too, announced plans to move both the Primetime and Creative Arts Emmys ceremonies outdoors, on the Event Deck at L.A. Live, next to the Microsoft Theater.

As part of last week’s announcement, the org also revealed that the guest list, which had already been limited to vaccinated nominees, would further be shrunk to include just four tickets per nominated teams of three or more.

Among other nods to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, the Television Academy had already canceled Governors Ball events this year, and as far as we know right now, there don’t appear to be any plans for a major after-party by any of the networks, studios or streamers. There will not be a red carpet at the Creative Arts shows, and only a limited one (with just a dozen outlets) at the primetime show.

The fast-moving COVID-19 delta variant has also had an impact on Emmy phase two campaigning. National Geographic canceled plans this past weekend to hold a two-day Emmy showcase at the Westfield Century City mall, which was scheduled to include discussions between nominees (including “Genius: Aretha” star Cynthia Erivo) and voters. The network made the decision after it began to feel inappropriate given the fact that the state of COVID-19 seems to be going in the wrong direction.

Among other TV events that have been pushed, Bravo just announced that its Bravocon event will be rescheduled for 2022.

This is the first year that the Hollywood Critics Association, which launched in 2016 (originally as the Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society), has added a TV awards ceremony. The HCA’s awards are the first to separate streaming programs from broadcast/cable shows, electing to give the digital platforms their own separate category in drama and comedy.

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