UPDATED, 2 p.m. PT: It’s official; TCA Press Tour is going all virtual. There will be no in-person sessions at The Langham in Pasadena.
PREVIOUS: After two years of virtual press conferences, the members of the Television Critics Association were no doubt looking forward to returning to in-person sessions at The Langham in Pasadena next week. But promises of a full-blown Press Tour are fading fast.
All of Disney’s platforms — ABC, FX, Hulu, Disney+ and NatGeo — are pulling out of in-person participation at the two-week confab and going virtual amid concerns over the recent surge of Covid infections in Los Angeles County. That amounts to five days of programming for TCA and non-TCA members who attend press tour in hopes of getting in-person interview time with actors and executives.
Disney isn’t the first company to change their summer TCA plans amid the current Omicron surge. Last month, CW quietly walked away from its July 31 press day; it went to NatGeo. CW will plan something for January.
CBS/Paramount pulled out, too, as did Fox and PBS. All will schedule virtual panels. Showtime is out, too.
NBCUniversal and CTAM are still mulling over their plans. TCA members were notified today.
TCA plans to require attendees to remain masked inside the Langham ballroom, but apparently that wasn’t enough to quell fears of the tour becoming another super spreader. Studios — especially those that sent folks to Comic-Con — don’t want to risk their talent getting infected at Press Tour, which could trigger multi-million dollar shutdowns. And we hear network execs were not keen on TCA’s idea of beaming virtual panels exclusively into the ballroom, which won’t be much use to reporters who look forward to the post-panel scrums, anyway.