Another round of COVID cancellations: How pop culture is being shut down or delayed again
Déjà vu: As concerns about the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus mount, another wave of cancellations and delays is spreading across the pop culture landscape.
So far, these concerns have mostly affected live events, including theater, concerts, and sports. Over the past week, numerous Broadway shows have canceled performances due to COVID cases in their company, including Hamilton, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, and Mrs. Doubtfire, among others. Moulin Rouge! The Musical called off its Thursday performance with the audience already in their seats, and on Friday, the Michael Jackson musical MJ halted all performances through Dec. 26 while the Radio City Rockettes canceled their Christmas Spectacular shows for the remainder of the season "due to increasing challenges from the pandemic."
"What's going on was contemplated — we hoped that it wouldn't happen in the numbers that it's happening, but it was contemplated, because we know there's an ongoing pandemic," Actors' Equity executive director Mary McColl told The New York Times. "The fact that cases are being caught, and performances are being paused, shows that both sides are paying attention — the producers and the unions — and that's what all of the safety protocols are there for. And my hope is that makes audiences feel more secure."
The halting recovery of live music has also been disrupted by COVID infections. Last weekend, Lil Nas X and Coldplay dropped out of the U.K. Jingle Bell Ball event after members of their teams tested positive for the virus. A day later, Doja Cat pulled out of iHeartRadio's Jingle Ball Tour after a positive diagnosis, and on Thursday, Megan Thee Stallion canceled an appearance at a Jingle Ball show in Atlanta after members of her team were exposed to COVID.
"We learned a few members on my team have been exposed to COVID," the rapper wrote on Twitter. "While I tested negative today, I'm not feeling well, and as a safety precaution, I won't be able to perform at Jingle Ball in Atlanta."
Sporting events are also being postponed once again: the NFL pushed two games to Tuesday, while the Cleveland Browns-Baltimore Ravens game scheduled for Saturday will now take place on Monday. In basketball, multiple college games were canceled while the NBA tightened its COVID protocols amid an uptick in cases.
It's currently unclear how much film and TV production will be affected by the surge, as Hollywood sets have been grappling with cast and crew infections for much of the past two years. On Friday, however, CBS' new comedy Ghosts halted production until January due to a COVID case on set.
Film releases may also be thrust into limbo again, though no major U.S. release has yet been delayed due to Omicron. In Europe, however, Warner Bros. reportedly postponed the U.K. release of the World War II drama Operation Mincemeat (EW has reached out to WB for comment), and Denmark announced Friday that movie theaters and other public venues will be shutting down to contain the spread of COVID-19.
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