SXSW Cancellations: Paramount Network, Comedy Central, ICM Partners Latest To Exit Over Coronavirus Concerns

SXSW 2020

UPDATED with Paramount Network and Comedy Central exits: In the wake of SXSW declaring that the fest will go on amid fears of the coronavirus, notable attendees have decided they’re pulling out.

On Friday, Deadline confirmed that ViacomCBS’ Paramount Network and Comedy Central are the latest to withdraw from the festival, set for March 13-22 in Austin. They join companies like Starz, Lionsgate, Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter who have opted out of the annual event.

Among the scheduled events now off include The Daily Show with Trevor Noah correspondent Jaboukie Young-White hosting a featured session “Disrupfluencing in the Age of Social Media with Jaboukie Young-White” on opening day March 13; a Comedy Central-led d”The Women Who Run the Shows” featured session March 14 with Phoebe Robinson Jen Flanz of The Daily Show and Karey Dornetto of Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens.

Paramount Network’s Yellowstone takes was set to take over Banger’s on Rainey Street on March 14, and Comedy Central’s was hosting its “Backyard Bash” at Pelons on March 20-21.

Earlier Friday, Deadline confirmed Friday that ICM Partners had pulled out of sending its contingent to Austin this year. Paramount, meanwhile, said that while it was keeping its March 14 world premiere of The Lovebirds in the lineup, stars Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae and director Michael Showalter would not be attending as planned. The studio will be doing press for the movie in Los Angeles in lieu of Austin, with details to come.

The moves come a day after Lionsgate and their Starz network said Thursday evening that they were no longer attending, as the parent company is insisting employees not conduct non-essential business travel at this time (by the way, this doesn’t extend to CinemaCon at the moment).

“Power” Starz

What skips SXSW from Lionsgate and its sister premium network? Notably, there was a featured panel for Power with creator Courtney Kemp, executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Starz president and CEO Jeffrey A. Hirsch that is no longer happening.

There was also a world premiere and activation for Starz’s upcoming series Hightown. The series, set in the world of beautiful but bleak Cape Cod, follows one woman’s journey to sobriety, overshadowed by an unfolding murder investigation. Monica Raymund, James Badge Dale, Riley Voelkel, Shane Harper, Amaury Nolasco, Atkins Estimond and Dohn Norwood star. Not only are talent backing out of the fest, but there won’t be a screening of Hightown, nor a planned activation.

Lionsgate’s Home Entertainment titles meanwhile actually will hold their world premieres, just sans talent. Those movies include the Liam Hemsworth-Vivica Fox-Vince Vaughn crime thriller Arkansas and the Michael Shannon-Shea Whigham crime mystery thriller The Quarry. 

Earlier Thursday, rocker Ozzy Osbourne, Universal Music Group and WarnerMedia confirmed they are pulling out of their respective slots at the Austin-based festival.

Osbourne was scheduled to attend in support of the world premiere screening of A&E Network’s Biography: The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne, its two-hour documentary set to air this summer. The doc is still set to bow March 17 in the 24 Beats Per Second sidebar.

Osbourne, who had to cancel his recent tour owing to illness, cited the ongoing threat of the coronavirus. UMG, in a memo obtained by Rolling Stone, said it was pulling out as a “precautionary measure.”

On Wednesday, Netflix and Apple both said they were exiting the Austin-based festival, a day after Amazon said it was doing the same. All three companies had content bound for different sections that now will not be in the mix.

They joined Facebook and Twitter who had earlier pulled out of the fest, which runs March 13-22.

As for CNN, it had a presence, and there was a Supernatural panel. CNN’s Jake Tapper had the pic based on his U.S. soldiers vs. Taliban book, The Outpost, which Rod Lurie-directed, making its premiere in Austin. I hear that movie will still play the fest.

“As a precaution, WarnerMedia has decided it best not to move forward with activations at SXSW. We look forward to seeing everyone in Austin next year,” said WarnerMedia in a statement sent to Deadline.

Also Wednesday, the CW confirmed that Buzzfeed’s “Dreamz, Queenz, & Everything in Between” party, sponsored by the network and set for March 14 at Mohawk, has been canceled. In addition, Latinx House also announced today it was canceling its Austin activities this year.

Netflix had planned to screen five films: the feature Uncorked and documentaries A Secret Love, L.A. Originals, Mucho Mucho Amor and Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics. A March 15 panel featuring Kenya Barris and Rashida Jones discussing their series #BlackExcellence was also canceled. Variety had the news first.

Apple’s lineup had included premieres of originals like Spike Jonze’s documentary Beastie Boys Story; Central Park, the new animated series from Bob’s Burgers‘ Loren Bouchard; Home, a new docuseries that explores the world’s most innovative homes and their builders and Boys State, Apple and A24’s documentary they snapped up for a record $12 million at Sundance. A Making Film & Episodics panel about the Apple series Little America featuring executive producers Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon and Joshuah Bearman in conversation with CNN anchor Kate Bolduan is also canceled.

Previously scheduled Amazon activities at the festival included two world episodic premieres, Greg Daniels’ sci-fi show Upload and Matt Reeves and Nathaniel Halpern’s Tales From the Loop. In addition, Amazon Prime Video had a marketing activation with Entertainment Weekly, specifically their Blue Room photo/video studio and a party on Saturday night. Those aren’t happening now. Amazon Studios’ film side didn’t have any product scheduled for SXSW.

On Sunday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey cancelled his plans to appear at the event in an interview with Axios’ Dan Primack. This was largely due to a company-wide curb on travel given the coronavirus crisis.

“Twitter is implementing a mandatory global business travel restriction for our employees, effective immediately. This unfortunately includes SXSW,” a Twitter spokesperson told Deadline.

Facebook had about dozen dozen speakers at the multi-media festival and one activation. The news follows Facebook axing its F8 2020 conference, which draws 5,0000 attendees annually, due to coronavirus concerns.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 3,280 people worldwide have died from the coronavirus, the majority in China. As of Thursday, 11 people have died in the U.S.

This article was printed from