Was Seth Rogen Right to Question the COVID-19 Safety Protocols at the Emmys?

The comedian called out the awards show while presenting on Sunday

Seth Rogen attends the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards on September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles. Producers of the show are pushing back against comments by the actor that the show set-up wasn't safe.
Seth Rogen attends the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards on September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Rich Fury/Getty Images

On Sunday night, when he stepped out at the Emmys to present Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, Seth Rogen expressed surprise at the event’s tent set-up and questioned just how COVID-safe the proceedings actually were.

“What are we doing? They said this was outdoors. It is not. They lied to us,” he said. “We’re in a hermetically sealed tent right now. I would not have come to this. Why is there a roof?”

In a new interview with Variety, producers of the awards show pushed back against Rogen’s implication that the event was unsafe, expressing disappointment with his comments and confirming that he went off-script to make them. Executive producer Ian Stewart told the publication that they were surprised by Rogen’s comments because he had attended rehearsal, seen the tent and been made aware of the COVID-19 protocol ahead of time.

“We have worked for months and months to make that a safe space,” Stewart said. “We’ve worked with all the health authorities. We were signed off by LA County, we came up with a plan with them. Those tables were distanced. Everyone was vaccinated. Everyone was negative tested in that audience. And also he had rehearsed. So he knew exactly what it was. So, I just felt it was an unfortunate misdirect from him. Because it wasn’t just our decision. This is the health authorities’ decision as well, to say that it’s a completely safe environment if you do all those things.”

“It made three months of very hard work and many, many discussions to get it absolutely right feel a little bit wasted, really,” he continued. “And then we just sort of played catch up. Because we wanted the audience to know how safe it was in there. We work in this industry, we’re desperately aware of COVID. I’ve done 50 productions nearly in COVID and not have people get sick. So, it’s deeply frustrating.”

So was Rogen justified in calling them out? No, according to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health. That organization put out a statement verifying the safety of the Emmys on Monday, saying, “LA County’s Health Officer order requires everyone to wear a mask indoors, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated. However, exceptions are made for film, television, and music productions, as additional safety modifications are made for these controlled interactions.”

“The Emmy Award Show is a television production, and persons appearing on the show are considered performers. All persons appearing on or in the audience of the Emmy Award Show were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Also, Public Health was informed that each of these persons had a verified negative PCR test 48 hours prior to the show. The Emmys reached out to Public Health in advance to share their safety protocols, which exceeded the baseline requirements for television and film productions. Public Health will continue [to] review the protocols of future large television production events and prescribe additional safety modifications to mitigate risk of COVID-19 transmission.”

You can watch Rogen’s comments below.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.