As studios, production companies, and entertainers try to start up Hollywood productions in 2021, LA’s status as a new COVID hotspot is making things difficult.
Gabrielle Carteris, Greek-American actress and president of SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, had some harsh words for studios.
“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”, said Carteris.
Though productions were supposed to re-start the first week of January, many studios have pushed back until the middle of the month. These include Netflix, CBS, Universal, Warner Bros., and others.
However, they are now saying that it would be financially damaging to delay productions further. Weighing financial concerns against health concerns for cast and crew has created a major divide in Hollywood.
Currently, hospital capacity in the LA area has been at or near 0% for almost a month. The situation is only expected to worsen after holiday gatherings the last couple of weeks.
LA is breaking infection and death records daily, and the latest stats show one in five citizens testing positive. Additionally, even with extensive on-set COVID measures being taken in the summer and fall, when LA’s numbers were much lower, many shows still experienced outbreaks.
Entertainment insiders are expecting a standoff between studios, producers and unions. Many unions want to protect the health of their members, and are urging a prolonged hiatus for filming in LA.
One TV producer, who wished to remain anonymous, understood that it was unsafe to film but believed it would be done anyway. “We’ve somehow convinced ourselves that we can do this safely. Are we doing it safely? We are being incentivized to believe that we are. So I think everyone is going to continue to take calculated risks.”
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