Hollywood’s Version of a Hybrid Event

Author: Casey Gale       

Golden Globes Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

Co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler spoke from two different locations side-by-side — with the help of a split screen. (Courtesy NBC)

The 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards aired on Feb. 28, kicking off an awards season that was delayed due to COVID-19. While the Primetime Emmy Awards last September embraced the “new normal” of events with almost every aspect of the show taking place digitally, the Golden Globe Awards took a different route — a hybrid event in which co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, as well as some presenters, came into viewers’ homes live from two locations.

Fey was broadcast from New York City’s Rainbow Room, while Poehler took center stage at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, where the award ceremony has been held for more than 50 years. Fey and Poehler delivered their monologue side-by-side — thanks to the use of split screen — for a bicoastal broadcast. And as a way to add some of the lively applause viewers are accustomed to during live award ceremonies, masked and physically distanced first responders and essential workers comprised the audience at both locations.

Here’s how it played out.

Golden Globe Winner Daniel Kaluuya

Daniel Kaluuya, winner of Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture for “Judas and the Black Messiah,”  gives his acceptance speech after experiencing technical difficulties. (Courtesy NBC)

Beware the mute button.
Audio issues aren’t limited to small team meetings. Even during a production as large-scale as the Golden Globes, technical problems can — and did — happen. When the first award of the night, Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, was given to Daniel Kaluuya, who along with the other nominees was joining the broadcast via Zoom, his audio was muted as he began his acceptance speech. Cameras quickly cut away and the show was ready to move on to the next award, but the focus returned to Kaluuya once his audio issue was fixed. “Is this on? Can you hear me now?” Kaluuya asked when he was finally able to give his acceptance speech — sounding much like any number of Zoom calls we’ve experienced over the past year.

Golden Globes Eugene Levy and Ramy Youssef

Golden Globe nominees Eugene Levy and Ramy Youssef mingle over Zoom ahead of their award category, Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy TV Series, being announced. (Courtesy NBC)

Breakout rooms can be spontaneously delightful — or awkward.
Before cutting to commercial, the broadcast often showed nominees in an upcoming award category talking to one another via Zoom in their category-specific breakout rooms. Some of the encounters showed sweet, spontaneous moments that could’ve easily happened at an in-person event, like nominees meeting for the first time and complimenting each other’s ensembles. In other breakout rooms, there were awkward silences and stilted introductions. These mixed results remind us that creating natural social interactions online is anything but. Stars, they’re just like us.

Lee Isaac Chung, director of Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language for “Minari,” had a little help from his daughter when accepting his award. (Courtesy NBC)

Digital doesn’t equal sterile.
There is a warmth that comes from mingling, hugging, and shaking hands in person that we’ve missed in the last year of the pandemic. But the Golden Globes showed that you can take advantage of the digital platform to interject authenticity and offer a window into stars’ personal lives. Several winners accepted their awards with their children by their side, including “Minari” director Lee Isaac Chung, whose acceptance speech for Best Foreign-Language Film was given with his young daughter in his lap. These family moments — which also occasionally included dogs and cats — made a typically formal affair feel much more intimate to viewers at home.