About two weeks before the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, a team of producers lock themselves in a room with a giant floor plan of L.A.'s Shrine Expo Hall posted on the wall in order to figure out the seating assignments for this year's 221 nominees and their guests.
Since the awards show's inception almost two decades ago, "We've wanted to make sure the actors were seated together, because it's their union," says SAG Awards producer Kathy Connell, who stresses the importance of intermingling the movie and TV ensembles. In the past, "There was more of a delineation between film and television actors among the industry, but now everybody crosses all lines," she says. "It's very emotional when somebody gets on stage, looks down and all they can see is a sea of the best actors at that moment. It can be really powerful."
Producers try to accommodate requests — BFFs Naomi Watts (The Impossible) and Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy) asked to sit together and are placed at Table 21 — and double nominees get to choose which cast they sit with. Bryan Cranston, who is part of the nominated ensembles for Breaking Bad and Argo, decided to stick with his TV cast, but producers made sure he will be close to his movie colleagues. "We have more nominees this year than we've ever had cross over between TV and film," awards coordinating producer Jon Brockett says.
Bobby Cannavale is nominated in two television ensembles: Nurse Jackie and Boardwalk Empire. He requested to sit with his Boardwalk cast, which will be seated right across from the Nurse Jackie group — which includes his son, Jake.
Adds Connell, "We're throwing the actors' party in the actors' house, so we really try to make them feel comfortable."
Here's a sneak peek at some of the seating chart (changes could still be made).
The cast of Argo: Table 18
The cast of The Big Bang Theory: Table 2
The cast of Boardwalk Empire: Tables 40 and 41
The cast of Breaking Bad: Table 25
The cast of Downton Abbey: Table 32
The cast of Glee: Tables 5, 6 and7
The cast of Homeland: Tables 22 and 23
The cast of Les Misérables: Tables 13 and 14
The cast of Modern Family: Tables 20 and 27
The cast of Nurse Jackie: Tables 43 and 44
The cast of The Office: Tables 1 and 3
Dick Van Dyke, Life Achievement Award recipient: Table 26
The Screen Actors Guild Awards airs live Sunday, January 27 at 8/7c on TNT and TBS.