A new feel for the Academy Awards as COVID-19 pandemic softens

Posted at 5:00 AM, Mar 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-27 18:04:24-04

PHOENIX — No one knows Hollywood quite like George Pennacchio, who's covered entertainment news in Los Angeles since 1996.

For the past two years, the pandemic has meant major adapting for this titan of Tinsel Town, and everyone else in the industry for that matter!

"Everything has changed," explained Pennacchio. "Now, Zoom is what we do all the time. And it has become easy in that sense where we can get to people sometimes we couldn't get to in the past...Everything takes longer. We show up an hour before we normally do just to get a COVID test to wait to make sure you're negative."

Testing has been crucial for Hollywood's return to normalcy. Pennacchio says he expects testing to continue well into 2022 -- and that means for everybody, including Hollywood A-listers.

"I can't say I've been swabbed next to Tom Hanks...but you know the saying, 'The stars, they're just like us?' When the stars were showing up for the SAG Awards, they had to get their COVID test right before they hit the red carpet, so they're all in limos waiting to get out. And when they got out, they had to wait. Much like us, they had to make sure they were clear and could step onto the red carpet. So just because you're famous doesn't mean the swab isn't going up your nose, too!"

Pennacchio says he also expects red carpets to do away with those big crowds for now, with more of an emphasis on safety, including for the Oscars.

"We've heard rumors that it might be about 60% of what it normally is, so it will still be crowded, there will still be a buzz, there will still be people from all around the world, but it will be a little easier and a little more spaced." he added.

Pennacchio also told ABC15 he was impressed with how quickly Hollywood was able to adapt throughout the entire pandemic.

"I think it goes back to an old Hollywood expression - the show must go on. And when we were all trapped in our houses almost afraid to go to the grocery store, Hollywood was asking what can we do to entertain people?"