According to sources, NCIS has paused production after a positive test in Zone A, which includes the cast and those interacting with them. The case is believed to involve a cast member. I hear that for now, the intention is still for the show to resume filming with the NCIS: Hawai’i crossover episode next week but plans are all in flux amid the unprecedented infection rates. Some sources indicate the show may stay dark for a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, NCIS: LA has delayed return to production until February, sources said. I hear this was done out of precaution based on the fact that the CBS procedural is well ahead and has enough episodes in the bank to afford a long break without affecting the season’s run on the network.
The extremely contagious Omicron has wreaked havoc on sets this week, with a number of shows, including one of the FBI dramas, stopping for a day or so to evaluate the situation and conduct contact tracing, I hear.
“It’s a mess, people keep getting Covid,” a production source said.
Disney pushed return to production across the board by a week, until Jan. 10. For the others, it’s been mostly a case-by-case situation, with Amazon Studios delaying some shows’ restart to Jan. 10, others to Jan. 17 while some series have been allowed to proceed this week as planned, sources said. A number of studios, including Universal Media Studios, Warner Bros. TV, CBS Studios and Netflix, have been trying to keep their productions on schedule, only pushing returns by a couple of days or suspending production for a day or two upon receiving positive results.
LA County Health Department’s list of outbreaks over the past 14 days includes several media companies, including Warner Bros. TV with 13 cases and Sony Pictures with three. There are three separate outbreaks at Universal Studios listed (total of 15 people, including eight at the Waterworld amusement park attraction.) According to sources, there are currently no major outbreaks or week-long production shutdowns involving shows filming on the Universal lot though there have been dozens of positive cases recorded over the past week as part of routine pre-production screenings.
Further production delays and shutdowns across Hollywood TV production are expected even with most casts and crews fully vaccinated as the Omicron variant has been causing an unprecedented number of breakthrough infections. Studios are currently monitoring the situation and awaiting more testing data before making decisions on how to proceed. Those decisions are expected in the next couple of days.
The pressure is biggest on broadcast series, which are produced on tight schedules and very close to their scheduled airdates. I hear priority is being given by studios to keeping those shows in production as much as possible.