New York-based late-night shows to suspend live audience tapings over coronavirus threat

"The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" is one of several New York-based late-night shows to suspend live audience tapings amid the coronavirus pandemic, in accordance with the recommendation of New York City officials. Pictured: Dancer Charli D'Amelio, left, during an interview with Fallon on Tuesday.
(Andrew Lipovsky / NBC)

Late night is going to be a little quieter very soon.

In a coordinated move announced Wednesday, late-night shows produced out of New York City announced they would soon begin taping without live, in-studio audiences out of concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

The TBS program “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee,” which tapes once a week, will be the first to suspend in-studio audiences beginning Wednesday evening. It will be followed by HBO’s John Oliver-hosted “Last Week Tonight,” which will tape without an audience Sunday.

Beginning Monday, “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night With Seth Meyers” and “The Daily Show,” which all air multiple times a week, will forgo audiences. Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen” will also cease taping before a live audience until further notice, according to a separate statement from a network spokesperson. Fox News also said it would suspend the live audience for its late-night program “The Greg Gutfeld Show,” which airs weekly, beginning Saturday.


The decision was reached after ongoing conversations between producers of the shows and in an effort to halt transmission of the novel coronavirus, which on Wednesday was designated a pandemic by the World Health Organization. As of Wednesday, New York state had more than 200 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. New York City had 48 confirmed cases and nearby Westchester County had 121.

In its announcement, CBS noted that there were no developments at the Ed Sullivan Theater, where “The Late Show” is taped, to cause concern for anyone who has attended the show in recent weeks or plan to attend the remainder of this week. Likewise, Comedy Central said, “There have been no developments at ‘The Daily Show’s’ studio to cause concern for audience members.”

The moratorium extended to NBC’s “Today” and “Today With Hoda & Jenna & Friends” morning programs, which will suspend live audiences beginning Thursday.

The coordinated effort follows a similar move by Walt Disney Television with its daytime offerings. “The View,” “Live With Kelly and Ryan,” and “The Tamron Hall Show,” all taped without a studio audience on Wednesday — and will proceed as such until further notice — due to increasing concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

“Live” hosts Ryan Seacrest and Kelly Ripa addressed the decision at the top of Wednesday’s show. “As you can see, things are a little different here today, given the developing situation in New York with the coronavirus,” Seacrest said, with a wide shot revealing a mostly empty set. “The decision was made to suspend audiences from our show.”

Series without live studio audiences have also been affected, with CBS reality competitions “The Amazing Race” and “Survivor” changing their production schedules amid the virus’ spread. The outbreak had already prompted a number of postponements or cancellations of entertainment events with large gatherings in recent days, including Coachella and SXSW.

The Centers for Disease Control’s current guidance encourages organizers of large gatherings to take steps to prepare for the possibility of community outbreaks, including but not limited to postponing or canceling said events. Late-night talk show tapings range from a few dozen to several hundred audience members.

This is not the first time New York’s late-night shows have taped without a live audience: Both “The Late Show With David Letterman” and “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” did so during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.