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OMICHRONICLES: GRAMMYS TO MOVE AGAIN?

With Omicron rampant and new COVID cases surging, discussion is said to be ongoing at the Recording Academy about the possibility of postponing the Grammys once again—as well as the option to move to an outdoor venue such as the Hollywood Bowl.

Word has it that co-executive producer Raj Kapoor is running point on this issue from a production standpoint, along with CBS exec Jack Sussman and Academy chief Harvey Mason Jr. There are multiple complex issues to navigate here, but we understand that artists have begun to push back against the idea of doing the show as previously scheduled.

Given the size of the Grammy production—performers, presenters, stage and TV crews, security, food and beverage service and so on—the logistical considerations are, to say the least, daunting. “With this large a crew,” an Academy insider muses, “I’m not sure outdoors would be that much safer.”

Should the Academy decide once again to do the telecast without an audience, of course, the options will vary. “It’s all under discussion,” confirms a highly placed source close to the show.

An Academy spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

Omicron has been wreaking havoc on all manner of public events. The NBA, NFL and NHL have all been contending with a huge spike in cases, necessitating quarantines, game postponements and tighter protocols. The final stop on iHeartRadio’s Jingle Ball tour, in Miami, was kiboshed after COVID outbreaks took multiple headliners out of action. Broadway has been particularly hard hit, with more than a dozen productions canceling shows and a few, notably Jagged Little Pill and Waitress, closing outright. Hundreds of holiday flights have been canceled. The “fifth surge” of COVID has produced a mind-boggling number of new cases in L.A., and though a smaller percentage are requiring hospitalization, there is still concern about hospital capacity.

We’re told that filming on New Year’s Eve in Times Square, where the crowd will be limited to 15k, will require on-air talent and crew to isolate in an NYC hotel for several days beforehand. As one top player in the live sector points out, with the staggeringly high transmissibility of the Omicron variant and so many personnel, it’s virtually impossible to create a safe “bubble.”

It’s a depressing, distressing new chapter after nearly two years of pandemic, but decisions must be made. The conversation will naturally follow the course of the surge. Stay tuned for updates—and stay safe.

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