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SAG Awards TV Review: It’s Netflix’s Hollywood & We All Live In It, As Streamer’s First Live Award Show Proves

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After a rather tame show last month, the freewheeling Golden Globes are kind of back. Only now they go by the name the 30th annual SAG Awards, which had a whole lot of the Globes and the Emmys in their bloodstream Saturday.

Finally on Netflix proper after being relegated to the streamer’s YouTube channel last year, the 2024 SAG Awards is yet another shiv in the side of broadcast TV by Team Sarandos as the first awards show to stream live on the global streamer.

In fact, that is likely why everyone from SAG-AFTRA boss Fran Drescher, de facto host Idris Elba, Beef star and now SAG Awards winner Ali Wong and more thanked the streamer and the co-CEO — cause that’s why they call it show business not show friends. A major player, if not the major player, in last year’s contract negotiations with the striking actors guild, Netflix’s dominance of the industry economically and content-wise was crystal at tonight’s SAG Awards.

Still, unlike a lot of the MOR efforts on Netflix of late, there was some welcomed vinegar in the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Saturday.

As Jonathan Banks put it in all in perspective during the onstage Breaking Bad reunion: “It’s an award show, for God’s sake, they can’t fire us. F*ck ‘em.” At the same time, even with a new home for the SAG Awards, like a wedding, there was something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.

The show opened with Michael Cera and Oscar nominee Colman Domingo doing a West Wing walk-and-talk version of the SAG Awards’ longstanding “I’m an Actor” routine. That was followed by Ted Lasso’s Hannah Waddington regaling us with a tale from early in her career of a mouse in her dress and Elba strolling us up to the stage with Robert De Niro story, a “sharing is caring” booze quip and a well-placed “f*ck” slightly at Oprah’s expense.

The Hijack star certainly ebbed star power as the host-in-residence, as Elba always does.

Elba also elicited the first hefty round of applause of the night, as he spotlighted the months-long strike undertaken by the 160,000-strong SAG-AFTRA against the studios in search of a new and fairer deal. Far from the only one to mention it tonight in the healing circle of sorts, the Luther star acknowledged the five-month-long labor action and the people in the room for “going through a very difficult time with the strike.”

“Thank you for fighting for us,” Oppenheimers Kenneth Branagh (looking oddly a lot like Peter Sarsgaard) added when the film won for Cast in a Motion Picture near the end of the just more than 2-hour show.

In a bit of a surprise well within awards show tradition, Netflix’s cameras made sure to get a close-up of guild president Drescher. The SAG-AFTRA boss took center stage later with a short but sharp victory-lap speech about 90 minutes into ceremony, which was executive produced by Baz Halpin, Mark Bracco, Linda Gierahn and SAG-AFTRA’s Jon Brockett.

RELATED: “Your Solidarity Ignited Workers Around The World,” Guild Boss Fran Drescher Tells SAG Awards After Strikes & “Hot Labor Summer”

The SAG Awards mirrored the Globes and the Emmys with big wins for FX’s The Bear, Netflix’s Beef, HBO’s Succession, The Holdovers’ Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Killers of the Flower Moon’s Lily Gladstone, Oppenheimer’s Robert Downey Jr (who literally and wonderfully thanked almost everyone from Mel Gibson before and onwards who helped him over his career), and the Christopher Nolan-helmed picture itself. To that end, the 2024 SAG Awards certainly seemed in its comfort zone of a bellwether for next month’s Oscars.

As is almost always the case, there was a lull mid-show.

Not that it was all bad that presenters Jennifer Aniston and Bradley Cooper were brimming with a rough-grind blend of praise, cheek kisses, saccharine, and Hollywood navel gazing in the SAG Life Achievement Award tribute to Barbra Streisand — they should should be. Though, all respect to Streisand, but, like The Way We Were star’s 970-page memoir of last year, someone stepping in to wrap it up earlier wouldn’t have been uncalled for.

RELATED: Barbra Streisand Praises The “Dreamers” Who Built Hollywood In Heartfelt Acceptance Of SAG Career Honor

Overall, the show was a more streamlined SAG Awards than we’ve seen for a while, on or off linear TV. It marked another slither forward in awards shows trying to shed the dead skin that has been holding them back for years. Overall, cementing Netflix’s dominance of the industry, tonight’s SAG Awards were a star-studded work in progress with winning potential.

Now, we could have done with not so much of the gimmicky backstage chats with winners interviewed by Queer Eye’s Tan France. A red carpet show within the show with shout-outs and telling everyone they were “amazing,” we got the time killer point pretty fast: this is what happens when you don’t have ads, and attendees need a drink or to go to the bathroom. Truth be told, less would have been more with a novelty that wore off quicker than the showers of gushing praise France offered his interview subjects.

Then again, self-admitted little tipsy and Male Actor in a Drama Series winner Pedro Pascal’s admission to France that “I don’t remember what I said” onstage was one of those split-second moments that makes live TV streaming unique.

In that vein, after a microphone almost took out Meryl Streep, being presented with her glasses and the winner’s envelope by her The Devil Wears Prada co-stars Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway afterwards was sweet. The quip by Ed O’Neill that he really missed “the money” of Modern Family during the sitcom’s onstage reunion was probably the best reason for a reboot – at least that’s what the shot of Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos laughing just beforehand at his table implied.

RELATED: ‘Devil Wears Prada’ Reunion At SAG Awards: Meryl Streep Defends “I Don’t Think I’m Anything Like Miranda Priestly!”

(L-R) SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos on Sunday

Getty Images

“The good thing about Netflix is you get to replay and watch me be really funny all over again,” a sunglasses-wearing Elba said at the very end of the show.

After all, like the global streaming and entertainment business itself, it’s all Netflix’s SAG Awards now.

Content Source: deadline.com

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