The Screen Actors Guild is making at least one major change to its awards as it prepares to return to a live, in-person event: A major venue switch. After being based at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall since 1997, the 28th annual event is moving to Santa Monica’s Barker Hangar.
According to SAG Awards executive producer Jon Brockett, the decision to decamp for Santa Monica was a way to shake things up after being in the same facility for so long.
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“We chose Barker Hangar because it’s a blank canvas,” he says. “We can create anything we want in this vast space that could accommodate all our needs including our carpet, showroom and post-awards gala.”
Located next to Santa Monica Airport, the 35,000-square-foot Barker Hangar is already a popular venue for awards shows, having housed the People’s Choice Awards, Critics Choice Awards, MTV Movie Awards, the NBA Awards and many more over the years.
“There is a ton of opportunity in this space since there is no existing architecture or design to compete with,” Brockett says. “We’re taking full advantage of that and going with a more top to tail, all-encompassing and experiential feel for the guests, which we are really excited to reveal in the coming months.”
This isn’t the first time the SAG Awards have been held in Santa Monica, however: The second-ever ceremony, held in 1996, took place at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
Beyond the venue, the SAG Awards hasn’t disclosed much of its plans for this next show — other than that it will take place 5 p.m. PT Feb. 27 and will once again be simulcast on both TNT and TBS. It’s unclear whether there will be a host; the SAG Awards traditionally went without one, until 2018, when Kristen Bell took the gig. Megan Mullally hosted in 2019, and then the 2020 show again went without a host (relying on Eugene Levy and Dan Levy to open the show).
The upcoming ceremony is also expected to return to its two-hour form, after 2021’s virtual event. That telecast, which aired April 4, wound up being produced as a one-hour, pretaped special. Under executive producers Todd Milliner, Kathy Connell and Sean Hayes, the show relied on pre-taped bits, and nominated actors were brought together in Zoom-like virtual rooms to give their acceptance speeches.
“We are extremely proud of the virtual show earlier this year,” Brockett says. “We found a way to create an entertaining show and keep everyone safe and comfortable. That said, we are so excited to go back to in-person. There is an overwhelming feeling of family and camaraderie and celebration in the room on show night. It’s palpable. You can feel it. It’s what we all love most about the SAG Awards and that’s what we’re mostly looking forward to bringing back.”
Recent awards shows have managed to return to in-person gatherings thanks to vaccination and COVID- testing requirements. Brockett says the producers are still figuring out how to determine the number of guests and seating at the next ceremony so that attendees feel comfortable.
“Another great thing about the new venue is that it’s completely scalable in terms of design and layout,” he says. “As an awards show honoring union members, the health and safety of our nominees, guests, staff and crew have always been a number one priority. We’ll be working closely with COVID experts on how to best approach an event of this scale safely and carefully to ensure we are in compliance with local government and guilds’ guidelines and safety protocols.”
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