This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
It seems so long ago that it is but a flickering, fading memory, or perhaps even a shared delusion—lore that’s only grown in drama with time. But in truth, it’s been just a year and a half since Gal Gadot assembled a gathering of celebrities to sing “Imagine,” a group of famouses so random it was as if their names were grasped from floating Rolodex cards billowing in the sky following an explosion at a casting director’s office.
How far we’ve come from when these stars warbled off-pitch in order to bring awareness to, well, presumably something during the start of the pandemic—what, exactly, has yet to reveal itself—and expected in kind to be shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize. A harmless, well-intentioned gesture, it was instantly pilloried. Here we are mocking it again! But it is telling.
While not necessarily those celebrities specifically, we’re at a time when people, especially all the famouses, can do something tangible and demonstrative to help others, save lives, and bring an end to the pandemic. And of course they can’t be bothered to do it.
There is a particular sense of schadenfreude happening right now as the gauntlet drops on more and more celebrities who are revealed to, if not necessarily be anti-vax, have declined to receive a vaccine against the coronavirus.
To ensure, I don’t know, some kids don’t die in the pursuit of making a second season of a TV spinoff of The Mighty Ducks, there are strict vaccine protocols in place on many—if not most—TV and film sets stipulating that actors appearing on camera must be vaccinated to work. It mirrors the stance of many businesses and industries around the country, as President Biden works to push through vaccine mandates for companies in the private sector.
That means that actors who are not vaccinated have been forced to leave projects, or send them into costly turmoil. Because these are public figures who are often considered examples to society, each of these occasions have made headlines.
It’s fascinating! It’s enraging! It’s, in a dark way, deliciously gratifying gossip! Who are the mashed potato-brained dinguses who won’t get vaccinated? Give me some popcorn and let me watch them get dragged over the coals. The pop-culture event of the season.
First, there was the Eric Clapton of it all.
Then in recent weeks we learned that Emilio Estevez left the aforementioned The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers series on Disney+ because of contract disputes—and failure to adhere to the vaccine mandate. General Hospital star Ingo Rademacher was let go from the soap opera he was a major part of for over two decades after posting an anti-trans meme—and not being vaccinated. Ice Cube missed out on a $9 million paycheck for a film he was going to star in with Jack Black over a vaccine requirement, raising so many questions, such as: They were going to pay Ice Cube how much money???!!!
NFL star Aaron Rodgers was caught lying about his vaccination status after contracting COVID-19, turning it into a martyrdom tour featuring all of Tomfoolery Idol’s greatest hits. (Leading with the chart-topping dystopian bop, “I Did My Own Research.”) Making things even juicier is the assumption that his clay-eating wife-to-be Shaliene Woodley was at first blamed for putting anti-science ideas in his head, but it turns out she’s currently filming a TV show with a vaccine mandate for on-camera actors. The gossip is good!
Of course in Hollywood, where woo-woo organic natural wellness crystal voodoo is its own pandemic, there are going to be a ton of people with the privilege to live such a lifestyle who evoke the same privilege in refusing to be vaccinated. Who are they? I can’t wait to find out more. (I have heard rumors of who some are. I’ll never tell. Until you corner me at a bar after a few drinks, of course.)
Just as fans turned “who didn’t show up at the vaccine-required Met Gala?” into a parlor game to guess who might be unvaxxed, pay attention to what typically booked-and-blessed performers suddenly find themselves with an empty dance card. According to The Hollywood Reporter, many studios are now only considering or auditioning vaccinated stars for roles.
And it’s not just stupidity. There are practical, costly repercussions to all this which can mess with the livelihoods of crew members. After refusing to get vaxxed, Miles Teller’s COVID-19 diagnosis brought the shooting of the upcoming series on the making of The Godfather to a halt, setting fire to millions of dollars. Then there’s the case of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star Letitia Wright.
After suffering an unidentified injury on set, Wright flew to London to recover. But the actress, who is reportedly not vaccinated and is not a U.S. citizen, can’t fly back to the country to complete filming, which has shot essentially every scene that does not require her presence. The Biden administration’s new policy is that international travelers must provide proof of vaccination before boarding a plane.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wright plays the most brilliant scientist in the world, and this is the situation she’s put herself in? Flop Forever.