“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” will resume production Monday on the Warner Bros. lot, albeit with no studio audience.
The syndicated talk show from WB’s Telepictures Productions stayed dark this week rather than returning to production as scheduled because of the surge in coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County. “Ellen” has been airing reruns since Dec. 10 after the host was diagnosed with COVID-19. The plan had been to resume production on Jan. 4, but that was untenable given the health risk and the fact that Southern California’s hospitals are already over-extended.
On Monday, “Ellen” intends to go back to the studio with a skeleton staff and crew. The goal is to minimize the number of employees that will be needed to work in person at the show’s offices at any given time. The studio confirmed that all of the show’s crew members will be paid during the modified production schedule. The uncertainty about how many crew members would be paid and for how long became a point of contention for some on the crew during the early weeks of the pandemic shutdown last spring.
A number of other daytime talk shows have resumed filming or plan to resume production soon. ABC’s “The View” and CBS’ “The Talk” have resumed remotely. Like “Ellen,” the syndicated “Dr. Phil” plans to return to production Jan. 11 from its regular perch at Paramount Studios but with a live Zoom audience.
As of this week, California has recorded more than 2.5 million people who tested positive for coronavirus and some 28,045 deaths. On Thursday alone, the state reported 583 deaths. Los Angeles County remains under a stay-at-home order with a positivity rate in COVID-19 testing of 9.8%. Film and TV production is permitted although California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week urged the major studios to considered a pause because of the strain on the state’s medical and emergency management infrastructure.