On Emmys night, Seth Rogen was trending on Twitter because, when he took the stage as a presenter, he said, “Let me start by saying there are way too many of us in this little room! What are we doing? They said this was outdoors! It’s not! They lied to us! We’re in a hermetically sealed tent right now. I would not have come to this. Why is there a roof?” Given how many of the presenters’ speeches were pre-planned for the big night, it’d be easy to assume that Rogen’s tongue-in-cheek comment was approved beforehand. But apparently Rogen—who is known for improvising in his movies—threw in the comment on the spot, pissing off Emmys producers.
Producer Ian Stewart told Variety that the crew had “worked for months and months to make that a safe space.” He added, “We’ve worked with all the health authorities. We were signed off by LA County, we came up with a plan with them. Those tables were distanced. Everyone was vaccinated. Everyone was negative tested in that audience. And also he had rehearsed. So he knew exactly what it was. So, I just felt it was an unfortunate misdirect from him. Because it wasn’t just our decision. This is the health authorities’ decision as well, to say that it’s a completely safe environment if you do all those things.”
Stewart—who had even more to say about the Rogen situation—noted that “many discussions to get [health protocols] right feel a little bit wasted” and said that after Rogen went off script, producers had to “play catch up” so the audience wouldn’t think it was unsafe and unethical to be there. “We work in this industry, we’re desperately aware of COVID. I’ve done 50 productions nearly in COVID and not have people get sick. So, it’s deeply frustrating,” Stewart said.
Rogen’s decision to go rogue wasn’t the only troublesome speech from that evening; there was also The Queen’s Gambit director Scott Frank’s super lengthy acceptance speech. Frank ignored many cues to wrap it up and get off the stage. Turns out the speech was longer than host Cedric The Entertainer’s own monologue. “I don’t want to go through that again,” said Stewart, point-blank.
He added, “If you think that you have to speak for four or five minutes, that means somebody else can’t. It’s just incredibly disrespectful to your fellow nominees.” He also noted that there’s a reason why producers can’t just cut the microphone so speakers are forced to leave the stage. “They just won a very important award. And also, of course, you don’t know what they’re about to say. That’s the problem with cutting the mic or playing the play off music over them, when they may be saving the very poignant thing to say to the end, and you’ll just ruin the moment for them.”