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TV Academy Bans Audience Interaction With Talent at Emmy FYC Panels, as Netflix Cancels First Event

An audience member asks a question
Invision/AP/Shutterstock

[Updated to reflect Netflix cancellation.]

As concern grows over coronavirus (COVID-19), the Television Academy has stopped the practice of talent and other panel participants from interacting with audience members during For Your Consideration events. Meanwhile, Netflix announced late Friday that it had canceled its first Emmy FYC panel of the season, for “Lost in Space.”

In a note sent to members, the Television Academy said Netflix had opted not to move forward with this Sunday’s event for “Lost in Space,” and that “the decision was made out of an abundance of caution for members, talent, partners, and employees. We are exploring options for a future panel/event and will provide details as available.”

As for the ban on interactions at FYC events, it includes autographs, selfies, meet-and-greets and questions from the audience, the org told members in a note sent out on Friday.

The decision comes a day after the Television Academy sent a note to members detailing how it was monitoring the news and considering FYC contingency plans should the situation worsen, such as live-streaming and/or taped-only panels with no audience.

In the most recent note, the Academy also said it encouraged “members who are feeling under the weather or those who have underlying health conditions to stay home. We will continue to review recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the LA Department of Health and update plans accordingly.”

Talent meet-and-greets are a large draw and a major part of the Emmy FYC cycle, along with episode screenings, panels and catered meals. (Many network and studio execs, who aren’t fans of audience Q&As but know they’re an expected part of these events, will likely applaud that temporary change.)

A TV Academy insider said additional rules will likely be implemented in the coming days, including how to handle the catered food at the FYC events.

As Variety reported on Thursday, networks and studios tasked with handling FYC events are so far monitoring the situation — but haven’t yet altered their plans. Events being held Friday night include HBO’s “The Plot Against America” (in New York) and “Westworld” (in Los Angeles).

Others coming up include Netflix FYC screenings and panels for “Tiger King” on March 15 and ”Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” on March 17, all at its Los Angeles offices, while Discovery’s “Serengeti” will be screened at a New York FYC event on March 16.

The latest TV Academy rule change comes the same day Austin’s SXSW festival was officially canceled.

Read the text from Friday’s TV Academy note below.

The Television Academy continues to monitor best practices associated with recent concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19). For the safety and health of ALL participants we are initiating the following precautionary measures immediately for ALL Emmy For Your Consideration Events (throughout the country) and for the entire FYC season (through June 14, 2020):

Talent and other panel participants will not be available for any audience interactions (this includes autographs, selfies, meet-and-greets and questions from the audience).

We encourage members who are feeling under the weather or those who have underlying health conditions to stay home.

We will continue to review recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the LA Department of Health and update plans accordingly.

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