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Oscars plan British ‘hub’ for nominees over pandemic travel fears

(While Oscars presenters will remain at the previously announced main location in downtown Los Angeles’ Union Station, producers are “planning something special for the UK location”. Photo: AFP)

LOS ANGELES, (AFP):- Next month’s pandemic-affected Oscars will include an in-person British “hub” for international nominees unable to travel to Los Angeles, a source familiar with the plan told AFP Tuesday.

While Oscars presenters will remain at the previously announced main location in downtown Los Angeles’ Union Station, producers are “planning something special for the UK location,” the source said.

The Academy Awards — the biggest and final night of Hollywood’s sprawling award season — had faced growing criticism after producers earlier this month said no video calls would be allowed for those unwilling or unable to attend in person.

Under the previous plans, all nominees would have been required to travel to California despite facing potential travel restrictions, lengthy quarantine requirements and the inherent risks of flying during a pandemic, or face being left out of the show entirely.

With the new policy, satellite links will now be provided for international nominees who have no way of getting to Los Angeles or the yet-undisclosed British location, although video calling will still be kept to a minimum.

Recent award shows including February’s Golden Globes were slammed for their heavy use of remote calling for nominees, particularly after the start of Daniel Kaluuya’s acceptance speech for best supporting actor briefly lost audio.

Eight of the nominated actors this year are British, while other international hopefuls include Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, Bulgarian “Borat” star Maria Bakalova, English director Emerald Fennell and South Korea’s best supporting actress nominee Youn Yuh-Jung.

This year’s nominated foreign films hail from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Hong Kong, Romania and Tunisia.

Organizers are still urging all nominees who are able to attend the Los Angeles ceremony in person to do so, and have asked attendees to observe a 10-day quarantine during which they will be asked to avoid crowds, gyms and restaurants.

The event will feature a red carpet of sorts, while nominees will be rotated in and out of Union Station as their categories arrive.

Some elements of the show — expected to include live performances — will be broadcast from the Oscars’ traditional Hollywood base at the Dolby Theatre.

The 93rd Academy Awards will take place on April 25.

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