Inside Spirit Awards: Joe Manganiello’s Unfriendly Dog; ‘Summer of Soul’ and ‘Shiva Baby’ Drink Up; Jason Isaacs FaceTimes Ann Dowd

Joe Manganiello
Marc Malkin for Variety

The Film Independent Spirit Awards returned as a live, in-person event on the beach. The traditional blue carpet was rolled out for this year’s indie superstars, who gathered under a tent on the beach in Santa Monica for this year’s festivities on March 6. Hosted by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, the awards’ honorary chairperson was Kristen Stewart.

Here’s a look at what the cameras didn’t catch inside the show.

1. COVID protocols

Guests had to provide proof of full vaccination and a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours of the awards. Masks weren’t required, except for press on the carpet and event staffers. K95 masks were offered by COVID officers, who continually asked press to put their masks on, even before talent arrived for carpet interviews.

2. Ann Dowd’s virtual appearance

Just minutes before Andrew Garfield presented the Robert Altman Award to “Mass” (Garfield and first-time director Fran Kranz starred together in Mike Nichols’ 2012 production of “Death of a Salesman” on Broadway), one of the film’s stars, Jason Isaacs, stepped outside to talk to someone on his phone. “I’ll bring you up on stage with me,” he said into the phone. As Garfield made his remarks, Isaacs held up his phone so the mystery person could watch. As he walked on stage, Isaacs revealed that co-star Ann Dowd was on FaceTime.

3. Ruth Negga’s unheard acceptance remarks

Ruth Negga accepted her award for best supporting female for “Passing” with a pre-recorded acceptance speech. However, as the footage rolled on the large screens next to the stage, audience members started shouting “It’s on mute!” The glitch was fixed by not before half her speech was done.

4. Drink up!

The Spirit Awards have always been known as a party on the beach. This year was no exception. The cast and crew of “Shiva Baby” were seen toasting with champagne several times after the film won the John Cassavetes Award. During one commercial break, “Shiva Baby” star Rachel Sennott said, “I’m going to find another bottle of champagne.” As director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and the producers of “Summer of Soul” headed to the stage to accept this year’s award for best documentary, Searchlight Pictures president Matthew Greenfield poured bubbly into several glasses at their table. When Kranz returned to his table after doing press for his Robert Altman win, he brought his glass award back to his table — along with a bottle of Bulleit’s Manhattan Cocktail.

5. Julia Fox gets press shy

“Uncut Gems” star Julia Fox declined interviews on the carpet, telling reporters, “I’m just here as a guest.” It’s unclear if vaping was allowed in the tent, but no matter because Fox puffed away at her table. She also nodded her head and applauded when Mullally and Offerman offered support for Ukraine and the “Will and Grace” star told Putin to “fuck off, go home.”

6. Joe Manganiello’s not-so-friendly lap dog

Joe Manganiello, who attended the awards as a guest of AMC, brought his very small dog Bubbles as his plus-one. “I bring her everywhere,” Manganiello told me. But as cute as the pooch was, the “Magic Mike” star warned admirers not to get too close because she’s a “nipper.” In fact, Bubbles is so possessive of Manganiello that she’s tried to bite wife Sofia Vergara’s face!