After being felled by the still-raging Omicron variant, the Critics Choice Awards have announced its new date, Sunday March 13 — which also happens to be the same date as the BAFTA Film Awards in London. The CCAs will air live on the CW Network and TBS from 7-10 p.m. ET in a broadcast honoring both film and television and coming from its new home at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. It also will air in many countries throughout Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
This presents an unprecedented collision for certain film nominees who are up for both awards. (BAFTA’s final list won’t be released until February 3, but its just-announced longlists share many of the same names as CCA’s nominees). It is a ticklish situation to be sure, but both sides are trying for the best solution under the circumstances, I am told, and the idea of a satellite hookup in Los Angeles and London for nominees on both ends has been floated.
“Following the science and tracking the course of the Omicron variant, we believe that March 13th will be the right day to properly honor the finest achievements in film and television during the past year,” said Critics Choice Association CEO Joey Berlin in an official statement re the new date. “We could have proceeded with our original January 9th date with limited attendance or switched to a virtual awards show like we did last year, but we decided to wait until we could safely gather in person and truly celebrate with the creative community, industry leaders and our CCA members all together in one beautiful setting for all the world to see.”
Deadline contacted BAFTA today, and a spokesperson gave us the following statement: “We are aware of the date change for the Critics Choice Awards 2022 and understand the unprecedented circumstances that have led to their decision this year. There are no changes to our current plans for an in person event for the EE British Academy Film Awards on 13th March and we look forward to welcoming everyone to London’s Royal Albert Hall for a safe and memorable event. There are no current plans for any satellite link up.”
Sources tell me not much more can be said at this time due, at least in part, to uncertainty about how the Covid situation is going to play out. (DISCLOSURE: I am member of CCA but have no involvement in the administration and production of its awards or financial activities and am not on the board.)
In a phone conversation, Berlin elaborated further on the move to the March date and said CCA expects to be in continuing conversations with BAFTA on how to handle their mutual nominees, including the satellite idea, which Berlin pitched.
“We had no choice. We did not choose the date lightly,” he said. “We had contractual obligations with our networks and our venues and our sponsors. Taking into consideration the networks’ commitment to other scheduled live events and the need contractually to deliver a three-hour Sunday show, plus the availability of the venue where we had a contract with, there was only one date between the Super Bowl and the Oscars and that is March 13. So I did reach out to BAFTA immediately and told them we regret this but had no choice, and they were great and understood. They couldn’t have been more gracious. We talked about an idea on how the talent could participate in both shows on the same day and put their safety and comfort first. Who knows about traveling both ways between London and L.A. at that time, and so many awards-season things are getting rescheduled and squeezed into this tight window, and there is ton of overlap we can’t control.”
Adding to the scheduling headaches for some of the shared nominees, the DGA Awards are taking place in Los Angeles the night before, on March 12 — not the first time they have been held the same weekend as BAFTA, by the way. Expect other major awards events also to juggle their dates, likely into March (and, in the case of the Grammys, maybe even further into the year).
Berlin says he and CCA are doing everything possible to make this work out for everyone. “Our discussions are continuing. We proposed possible ways to make lemonade out of these lemons. It is a tough situation, but we hope this could be a way by trying to give people a benefit of both events wherever they are, L.A. or London,” he said about possibly working out having satellite availability in L.A. and London so affected nominees would not have to miss either.
The Oscars, in its pared-down ceremony in April, had a similar solution with live shots to those gathered in London as well as other points in the world. Berlin emphasized, however, as BAFTA did in its statement, that nothing is set in that regard.
“We are trying. We certainly don’t want to say you have to choose,” he said. “We are happy to take people on satellite, which we never have done, and maybe people want to stay in L.A. or London for Covid reasons or otherwise. I have tremendous respect for BAFTA, for Amanda Berry and her team and their awards ceremony, and how gracious they have been. This will never happen again. We would never dream of going on a date that a major awards event has already claimed if the choice weren’t based on going on that date or not going on at all. “
At least one major awards PR player Deadline spoke with about all this at first was distraught about the idea of the two shows going on the same day, but then decided if there were satellite hookups on both ends it might actually be a plus. The exec said some nominees are wary of traveling these days, and it might alleviate worries on that end.
Berlin is empathetic since CCA had chosen its original awards date of January 9 way back in May, but then expressed surprise when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced they would be holding its Golden Globes event at the Beverly Hilton on the same night. For its part, the HFPA claimed that it had always had that Sunday in January and had always planned to do something then, even though the announcement did not come until mid-October. Welcome to pandemic awards season redux, folks.
Of course the new date presents no conflicts for a vast number of nominees from the television side, only the film community. Berlin said full details of how everything will work out will be announced as soon as things fall into place. He said they had to make today’s new date announcement since the postponement forced them to start from scratch in lining up presenters and all the logistics that go into a large awards broadcast such as this one. BAFTA also has a large broadcast component, just to add to the complexity of trying to make “lemonade out of lemons” as Berlin says. And of course, everyone hopes Omicron does not find a way to crash either event.
Along with the broadcast date change, CCA has changed its voting schedule, with the final round now taking place March 9-11.
Tom Grater contributed to this report.
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