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  • Writer's pictureSherri Epperson

Coronavirus Impact On Hollywood

The Covid-19 Coronavirus has hit Hollywood hard. Confusion and uncertainty is widespread as studios scramble to implement safety precautions and deal with new programming delays.

By early April all cameras had stopped rolling and stages were dark as Hollywood productions totally shut down leaving thousands of movie and television crew members unemployed. The massive furlough has swept through the entire industry bringing hardship to everyone involved including vendors and suppliers.

Safety Precaution Confusion

While some productions are hoping to start by July, most major studios are anticipating productions to fully start up again by September. But before that can happen, certain safety precautions must be implemented and CDC guidelines followed. Currently, there is much confusion on how to do this. Studios have been scrambling on what to do and unions are sending out multiple crew surveys for feedback. Some studio suggestions have been to start with a skeleton crew on set, meaning only the few must-have crew members allowed, with other departments such as wardrobe, set decoration, and props being in a separate location. While this may work, there are some departments that haven't been addressed, such as Production Accounting. Accounting directly interacts with every department of a production and all outside vendors. They pay all the bills and handle all vendor account setups, cash flow to departments, as well as all crew member start paperwork, time cards, and payroll. By touching everything coming in, they are at high risk for contracting the virus. Not to mention, Accounting is usually crammed into very small and tight spaces with several people in an unproperly ventilated room with no windows. Will Accounting ever be able to go paperless and all-digital? Only time will tell, but it seems unlikely.

The Impact on New Programming

The Coronavirus has had a major impact on network programming. Normally, this time of year means "pilot Season" in Hollywood. Networks greenlight pilots in January and February and filming takes place in March. Network execs then review the pilots in April and add programming to fall schedules in May. But due to the halt in production and schedule disruptions, networks have relied on older programming to fill their schedules. With tv viewer numbers already falling behind due to streaming services such as Netflix and HULU, this will be an even larger dent in broadcasting's primetime audience numbers. Future programming has been pushed a whole quarter, according to a source at Legendary TV, with a lot of new content coming in 2021. This is great for content already completed before the virus spread, but for new productions starting back you have to take into consideration the time the new material will be in post-production after filming is complete. So who really knows how far into 2021 we will actually start seeing new content. Thankfully, streaming platforms already have a library full of programming to occupy viewers throughout the rest of 2020.

New information will be updated as it becomes available.

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