Soap operas led the way in showing how television production could resume earlier this year after an industry-wide shutdown occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the L.A. County Health Department is addressing the possibility of another hiatus.
Another COVID Hiatus?
According to Deadline, the L.A. Health Department is asking the entertainment community to “strongly consider pausing for a few weeks.” How might doing so affect the four daytime soaps that shoot in Los Angeles?
Currently, all four shows already are not in production as they have taken a holiday break. It’s quite possible that if they were to delay returning to production in January, there might not be any interruption in new episodes depending on how many episodes each has banked.
Long before COVID-19, soaps got in the practice of shooting more than five episodes a week. Days of our Lives, for example, got so far ahead with taping that there was a delay of about eight months between what was being shot and what viewers were seeing on air.
The NBC soap lost that lead time over the summer and was the only daytime serial that didn’t air a series of classic episodes in order to fill the airtime. While viewers enjoyed seeing storylines from past years, they were often left wanting to see how those stories resolved.
Last Sunday, the L.A. Public Health department reported 13,580 new COVID-19 cases and 44 new deaths. Back in early November, the average number of new cases in L.A. County was around 1,200 a day.
Something that won’t affect the soaps as much is the health department advising against travel for production purposes. Remote shooting for soaps is always nice to see, especially with the shows taping in glamorous locales, but storytelling can continue with the four daytime dramas staying close to home. And even then, there are options.
BB, for example, shot on the rooftop of its home at Television City in Hollywood last year for the showdown between Thomas (Matthew Atkinson) and Liam (Scott Clifton). The serial showed it didn’t have to leave home in order to shoot outdoors.
The call for a pause on production comes at a time when hospitals are full “virtually everywhere,” according to L.A. Health.
The great news is that there are currently two coronavirus vaccines that have been approved for use. Many healthcare workers are in the process of receiving their first doses (a second shot will follow). “There is light at the end of the tunnel,” L.A. Health said.
BB was the first soap to return to production last July, showed how shooting in a COVID-19 world can go on. On rare occasion, the show has had to hit the pause button on production, but then it returns to work when it’s safe to do so.
Viewers have noticed the social-distancing that’s appearing on air right now. Sometimes, the shows are able to write in why certain characters aren’t getting close to one another. In a deleted tweet, one soap fan took issue with the noticeable differences on-screen due to COVID-19 safety protocols, expressing it was frustrating to watch.
“It’s frustrating for you?” two-time Daytime Emmy-winner Camryn Grimes (Mariah, YR) responded. “[I’ve had] 50+ Covid tests, severe working restrictions, and I don’t see my friends or family. To be safe. To keep them safe. To keep my work safe. And I’m one of the lucky ones, I still have a job, thank god.”
Currently, the soaps are set to resume production next month. If there’s an announced delay from any of them, Soap Hub will bring you the latest details. For the latest on COVID-19, you can visit the Center for Disease Control’s website.
Also… it’s frustrating for you? 50+ Covid tests, severe working restrictions, and I don’t see my friends or family. To be safe. To keep them safe. To keep my work safe. And I’m one of the lucky ones, I still have a job, thank god. https://t.co/R9gGuyIRhx
— Camryn Grimes (@camryngrimes) December 5, 2020