Late night hosts are brought in by the network to provide comic relief in their advance presentations. But it turns out that Seth Meyers was only half-joking when he told the thousands of people packed into the Radio City Music Hall for NBCUniversal’s presentation, “What a historic room to be able to tell people you found in Covid.”
Ten days later, cowardly cases are spreading among people who took part in a marathon event in New York last week. Top-level executives from virtually all major networks and studios were impressed, including support staff who worked on the presentations, as well as media buyers and journalists who took part in the string of events.
In each of this week’s conversations, the issue has inevitably been raised, involving someone who has been at the forefront of what is likely to be the biggest covidian outbreak in a senior position in the TV industry since the epidemic began.
While the combination of the unfortunate timing of the festivities in an upward spiral in New York and the lifting of business restrictions across the country is not a very strict Covid protocol, it is not entirely surprising that the first personally frontal event in three years turned into a superspreader event. T.He said most participants do not wear masks most of the time and, while we have heard that some executives test daily as part of their own company guidelines, none of the non-accompanying guests needed to test the covid throughout the week. (Wax cards were mandatory everywhere.)
On Monday, the first day, New York City health officials strongly recommended that people wear masks when they are in densely populated indoor areas, but they did not go so far as to make it mandatory, and for the next few days, there were not many masks at events targeting ad buyers.
NBCU Universal Upfront, which launched Radio City Music Hall involving dozens of performers with a wide range of productions, and Monday’s Skylight Fox (mostly pre-taped) event featured mask-free content such as the Disney event at Basketball City. On Tuesday, where the majority of participants gathered together on the back bleacher, behind the chief executive and top advertisers who sat on sofas and tables near the front.
Warner Bros. Discovery hosted its event at the Madison Square Garden Theater on Wednesday morning, but it wasn’t until Carnegie Hall Paramount Global’s bash later that day that attendees were allowed to enter wearing their masks and were then reminded to wear masks throughout the event.
The CW, similarly, forced attendees to wear masks in front of them in New York City Center.
And then there was the party. It came in a variety of sizes, from relatively small for CW and Fox, to medium for NBC Universal and Disney to large for Paramount One, which had hundreds of fans on the ninth floor of the former Bernie’s New York building. Due to the nature of their social gathering with food and drink, the bass were virtually mask-free.
There were rumors that the positive covid test had pushed away some presenters who were supposed to appear in front but since they were not announced in advance, it is difficult to say. The only confirmed case was Jimmy Kimmel of ABC who had to do his annual roast instead of actually delivering it to the room.
Although the prevalence of covid was not clear until this week, there was a general perception of inevitability among those who attended last week who acknowledged that there was a strong possibility of catching covid as New York reached the heights of orange. A cautious industry player said the deadline at the time was that it seemed to be a “business risk” these days.