As COVID-19 deaths spike, studios delay production on L.A.-based TV shows

Actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan in the Netflix show "Never Have I Ever."
Actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi in Netflix show “Never Have I Ever.” The show will resume production Jan. 11, extending a holiday hiatus by a week.

Universal Television is extending its holiday hiatus on six shows by at least a week, as COVID-19 deaths continue to rise and overwhelm L.A. County hospitals.

Production on five shows — NBC’s “Mr. Mayor,” “Kenan” and “Good Girls,” HBO Max’s “Hacks” and Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever” — will resume Jan. 11, instead of Jan. 4, according to a person close to production, who declined to be named. Production on NBC’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” will resume Jan. 18, said the source, who was not authorized to comment.

The decision comes as L.A. County’s Department of Public Health has encouraged the film industry to pause production for a few weeks in light of the spike in COVID-19 deaths. Morgues are becoming too full to handle the number of bodies. On Wednesday, Los Angeles County reported its 10,000th COVID-19 death.

Other productions have also extended their winter hiatus. CBS Studios has delayed resuming production by a week, to Jan. 11, on some of its shows.

The affected CBS Studios-produced programs include “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “SEAL Team,” “Why Women Kill” and “Diary of a Future President,” according to a studio source who was not authorized to comment.


ABC Signature and 20th Television will restart production in L.A. on 16 programs Jan. 18, at least a week later than planned, according to a source close to production who declined to be named. Those productions include “911,” “911: Lone Star,” “American Crime Story: Impeachment,” “American Horror Story,” “American Housewife,” “Big Shot,” “black-ish,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Last Man Standing,” “Love, Victor,” “Mayans,” “Mixed-ish,” “The Orville,” “Rebel,” “Station 19” and “This is Us,” the source said.

A Disney spokesman declined to comment.

Sony Pictures Television has delayed resuming production on ABC’s “The Goldbergs” and Netflix’s “Atypical” by a week to the week of Jan. 11 to accommodate additional testing, according to a person close to production who declined to be named. “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” will resume work Jan. 11 as originally planned, the person said.

Warner Bros. Television productions has extended the holiday hiatus for at least seven productions, including “All American,” “Bob Hearts Abishola,” “B Positive,” “Call Me Kat,” “Mom,” “Shameless” and “You,” according to a person familiar with the matter who declined to be named. Nearly all L.A.-based series will be back in production on Jan. 11, the person said.

“Lucifer” and “Young Sheldon” were originally scheduled to resume Jan. 11 and “All Rise” was scheduled to start Jan. 12, the person said. The source said the studio will continue to evaluate the situation.

Hollywood has put guidelines in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. In September, studios and unions agreed on safety protocols, including testing before employees start work on a set and during production.

There have been clusters of coronavirus infections identified among workers at three Warner Bros. productions in Burbank — on the set of “Lucifer,” “The Kominsky Method” and “Young Sheldon.” In total, 35 people have tested positive as part of those clusters of infections, according to data released by the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

An additional 45 positive coronavirus cases have been identified at the CBS Studio Center in Studio City, according to the county data. Twenty-three coronavirus cases have been identified among workers at NBC Universal in Studio City and Universal City, and there have been nine coronavirus cases among staff at Netflix Productions’ office in Gardena.

Times staff writer Rong-Gong Lin II contributed to this report.