As COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly transmissible omicron variant continue to surge, entertainment specials and events are once again getting canceled or postponed during the fall and winter months.
As of Saturday, the omicron variant accounted for 73.2% of new COVID-19 infections in the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The week ending Dec. 11, omicron accounted for 12.6% of new cases.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday urged the public to cancel upcoming events due to the threat of omicron.
“An event canceled is better than a life canceled,” Tedros said.
Here are entertainment events that have been canceled or postponed as a result of the surge.
New Year’s Eve specials
‘Fox’s New Year’s Eve Toast & Roast 2022’
FOX Entertainment announced Tuesday its New Year’s Eve special, “Fox’s New Year’s Eve Toast & Roast 2022” would not go on due to rising COVID cases. Actor-comedians Ken Jeong and Joel McHale were set to host the special.
The recent velocity of the spread of Omicron cases has made it impossible to produce a live special in Times Square that meets our standards,” the network said in a statement. “The health and safety of our casts and crews has always been, and will continue to be, of the utmost importance.”
The network added that replacement programming for the special will be announced in coming days.
Fox’s “Toast & Roast” was set to include performances from Imagine Dragons, Maroon 5, Billy Idol, Pink and more.
However, other networks’ New Year’s Eve specials are still a go.
NBC’s holiday special “Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party” hosted by Miley Cyrus and “Saturday Night Live” comedian Pete Davidson will air live on the network from Miami.
CBS is also joining in on the fun with its first-time Nashville-based special “New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash,” featuring country music’s hottest stars — including Dierks Bentley, Zac Brown Band and Dan + Shay — across multiple locations in Music City, according to the network.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.” Seacrest is set to host from New York’s Times Square with Liza Koshy.
However, plans for the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration are also in question as Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to decide this week whether to go through with plans to allow vaccinated visitors to gather. De Blasio said in November he wanted to bring the event back “full strength” this year.
Live tapings of shows that often film before a studio audience have postponed episodes amid the rise in COVID-19 cases.
‘Wendy Williams Show’
While the show’s host has been absent from her seat for all of this season due to health concerns, the show itself will be on hold while COVID-19 cases break record highs in New York City.
The show announced Tuesday that live episodes would continue on Jan. 10 instead of the originally planned Jan. 3 date.
“Due to the growing number of new COVID-19 cases and to ensure a safe return for our crew members and staff, ‘The Wendy Williams Show’ will now return with new live episodes on Monday, January 10,” the show announced on Instagram. “We continue to observe all relevant New York City health and safety protocols, and wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season.”
‘Nick Cannon Show’
The “Nick Cannon Show” announced similar news Tuesday, writing on Instagram the show would continue their live tapings on Jan. 10.
The rise of the omicron variant also comes as Hollywood’s awards season is on the horizon.
Academy Awards’ Governors Awards
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has postponed its annual Governors Awards due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and the omicron variant. The event, one of the Academy’s annual ceremonies leading up the Oscars, had been scheduled to take place Jan. 15 in Los Angeles.
In a statement, the Academy said “made the difficult decision to change our plans” given the uncertainties around the variants. “We feel this is the best and safest decision for our honorees and guests. Rescheduled plans will come at a later date as we continue to prioritize the health and wellbeing of all those involved.”
Samuel L. Jackson, Liv Ullmann and Elaine May have been tapped to receive honorary Oscars at this year’s Governors Awards, while Danny Glover is set to get the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Due to the lockdown, the 2021 Governors Awards were canceled entirely and the two Hersholt honorees, Tyler Perry and The Motion Picture and Television Fund, were presented were their awards during the April 25 Oscars show.
Critics Choice Awards
The Critics Choice Association has postponed its annual Critics Choice Awards due to mounting public health concerns regarding COVID-19 and the increased prevalence of the omicron variant.
“We have collectively come to the conclusion that the prudent and responsible decision at this point is to postpone the 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards,” the association said in a statement. “We are in constant communication with LA County Public Health officials, and we are currently working diligently to find a new date during the upcoming awards season in which to host our annual gala in person with everyone’s safety and health remaining our top priority.”
The decision to postpone the awards show is a contrast to a previous statement from the association, which stated the Critics Choice Awards would be held with “the strictest and safest protocols,” such as “mandatory proof of vaccination, negative PCR tests 48 hours in advance, proper social distancing and masking requirements.”
Originally scheduled for Jan. 9, 2022, the Critics Choice Awards was set to be hosted by Taye Diggs and Nicole Byer. The ceremony honors prominent works and figures in the film and television industries. Films such as “Belfast,” “West Side Story,” “Dune” and “The Power of the Dog” are nominees this year, while actor Halle Berry is the recipient of the women’s advocacy SeeHer award.
Palm Springs International Film Awards
The Palm Springs International Film Awards has been canceled by event organizers. The awards ceremony was expected to take place in person on Jan. 6, 2022, at the Convention Center in Palm Springs, California.
Stars who were expected to attend the ceremony included directors Jane Campion and Kenneth Branagh, actors Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Hudson, Lady Gaga, Andrew Garfield, Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz and the casts of “King Richard” and “Belfast.”
“We are taking this action due to the recent spike in COVID cases and out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of the honorees, patrons, and staff,” said a statement from the Palm Springs International Film Festival. “The Palm Springs Film Awards are one of the largest events in the film world with 2,500 guests and more than 1,000 staff in the room.”
The Palm Springs International Film Festival is still scheduled to run through Jan. 17. Passholders are required to show proof of full vaccination, photo ID and sign a waiver to enter venues and events, which also applied to the film awards ceremony.
New York Film Critics Circle
The New York Film Critics Circle has postponed its 2022 awards ceremony, originally scheduled for Jan. 10, according to Variety.
“Out of safety concerns for our award winners and our members, we’ve made the decision to postpone our dinner,” NYFCC chair Stephanie Zacharek told the outlet. “But rest assured, we’re going to find a way to celebrate the accomplishments of our winners in the coming months. Even in the midst of an uncertain time, we see this as a positive step forward.”
Miami Jingle Ball
iHeartRadio’s annual Jingle Ball 2021 tour was cut short this year. The Miami leg of the tour, scheduled for Sunday, has been canceled due to COVID-19 outbreaks, Y100 Miami announced on social media.
“Due to the increased transmission of the new Covid-19 variant and to further minimize any potential risks, as a precautionary measure and for the safety of our staff, talent and guests, we have made the decision to cancel tonight’s IHeartRadio Y100 Jingle Ball,” iHeart said in a statement.
The show was originally scheduled to feature Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, Jonas Brothers, Black Eyed Peas, Saweetie, Monsta X, Anitta and more.
‘Jagged Little Pill’
As Broadway struggles to keep curtains up, COVID woes are forcing longer shutdowns for some productions — and the permanent closure of “Jagged Little Pill.”
“Jagged Little Pill” announced Monday night that it would not be reopening following a closure that was set to end early this week. It was the second show to directly blame COVID for closing; the first was “Chicken & Biscuits” in November.
“Six” announced Monday night’s show was canceled as audiences lined up outside. The Broadway performances are set to resume Dec. 29.
“Skeleton Crew,” a new Broadway play by Dominique Morisseau starring Phylicia Rashad, announced Monday that it was pushing back the start of its previews and opening night due to COVID cases. Its first performance will take place Dec. 27.
“Hamilton” has canceled all performances through Dec. 26.
“Mrs. Doubtfire” canceled performances through Dec. 21. Performances will resume Dec. 22.
‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” canceled shows through Dec. 27.
‘Is There Still Sex In The City?’
Writer and star Candace Bushnell tested positive for COVID-19 Dec. 21 right before she headed onstage – and the producers have said the show, which premiered Dec. 7, cannot continue. A national tour remains in the works, plus an international one.
The Rockettes announced Dec. 17 that the Radio City Christmas Spectacular would end early.
“We regret that we are unable to continue the ‘Christmas Spectacular’ this season due to increasing challenges from the pandemic,” a statement on the Rockettes’ website read. “We had hoped we could make it through the season and are honored to have hosted hundreds of thousands of fans at more than 100 shows over the last seven weeks. “We have loved bringing back this cherished tradition that helps usher in the holiday season in New York City and look forward to welcoming fans back to Radio City Music Hall in 2022.”
Contributing: Pamela Avila, Ryan W. Miller, Adrianna Rodriguez, Brian Truitt, Edward Segarra, USA TODAY; Ilana Keller, Asbury Park Press; Brian Blueskye, Ema Sasic, Palm Springs Desert Sun