As Covid cases surge in California, Hollywood pauses TV production

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General view of the Hollywood Sign on November 17, 2020 in Hollywood, California.
AaronP/Bauer-Griffin | GC Images | Getty Images

After months of rising coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths in California, several Hollywood guilds and labor unions are recommending that in-person production of television shows and independent films be temporarily halted.

“Southern California hospitals are facing a crisis the likes of which we have never seen before,” said Gabrielle Carteris, president of SAG-AFTRA. “Patients are dying in ambulances waiting for treatment because hospital emergency rooms are overwhelmed. This is not a safe environment for in-person production right now.”

SAG-AFTRA, the Joint Policy Committee and the Producers Guild of America made their recommendation public on Sunday, just days after the regional stay-at-home order in California was extended, with no specific end date.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that one person contracts the coronavirus every six seconds in Los Angeles County.

More than 45,000 new cases were reported in California on Sunday, as the state’s hospitalization rate reached its highest since the start of the pandemic. Of those new cases, around 12,400 were from Los Angeles County, according to the state’s health department.

“Even putting aside the risk of acquiring COVID on set — a risk that we have done a great deal to mitigate through our safety protocols — on set production always poses some risk of injury, whether because of a stunt gone wrong, an equipment failure or a garden-variety fall,” said David White, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director. “Right now, with few if any hospital beds available, it is hard to understand how a worker injured on set is supposed to seek treatment.”

Warner Bros. said last week that its CBS series “Mom,” “B Positive,” “Bob Hearts Abishola” as well as the Showtime drama “Shameless” and Netflix’s “You” will not resume filming until next week, according to a report from Variety.

Universal has also halted filming on six shows including “Mr. Mayor,” “Kenan,” “Good Girls” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Most of its shows are tentatively planned to begin shooting again on Jan. 11, except for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” which is expected to resume after Jan. 18.

Variety also reported that 16 shows produced by Walt Disney-owned 20th Television and ABC have extended production hiatuses. That includes: “Black-ish,” “Mixed-ish,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Station 19” and “This is Us.”

ABC’s “The Goldbergs” and Netflix’s “Atypical,” which are produced by Sony Pictures Television, were supposed to resume production next week, but will restart the week after. “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” will resume shooting the week of Jan. 11.

CBS Studio productions of “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Seal Team” and “Why Women Kill,” are also among productions that have postponed until Jan. 11.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC.

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