The Covid-19 crisis has affected every facet of the world: the way we socialize, the way we do business, the way we think about humanity, and the way we pass the time. The entertainment industry is no different. Film, TV, Music, and Live Events have all had to adapt quickly, as well as figure out what the near future looks like as everyone grapples with how to return safely back to some kind of life we recognize.
Television has tried various approaches. Late night television went dark in the traditional sense, but remained on air from their homes video chatting with quarantined celebrity guests. Saturday Night Live debuted three SNL @Home shows that relied less on hosts and musical guests and more on performers recording themselves at home. CBS drama ALL RISE, that usually shoots downtown, was the first primetime scripted one-hour to tackle the pandemic subject matter in a completely remote filmed, Zoom enhanced episode. NBC’s THE BLACKLIST was able to finish an episode that was not completed due to the shutdown by using a graphic novel-style animation technique. And the Apple+ video game workplace comedy MYTHIC QUEST released a special quarantine episode ahead of their second season. Film has had to shuffle release dates as distributors/exhibitors speculate when people will comfortably return for the theater experience. Lower budgeted comedies like KING OF STATEN ISLAND and THE LOVEBIRDS will be skipping planned theatrical releases and go straight to streaming and/or video on demand.
Necessity is the mother of invention in the music business too. In lieu of traditional promotion, some artists have opted to promote newly released music with videos that are animated or shot safely in quarantine. Instagram has become the new club, as the live feature has been the online destination for DJ D-Nice’s ClubQuarantine or the extremely popular Verzuz events organized by hip hop superstar producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland that is more of a celebration of music between music icons. Teddy Riley vs. Babyface, RZA vs. DJ Premier, Nelly Vs. Ludacris are just a few that have attempted and succeeded in crashing the platform. There has also been at-home concerts from John Legend, Alicia Keys, to name a few, as well as benefits and dance-a-thons organized by the likes of Lady Gaga, Elton John, and Diddy.
Some countries are opening back up for filming and California has issued its guidelines and new safety protocols for productions, which then has to get approved by Guilds, Unions, and Studios. Some smaller modified productions are hoping to get started as early as July, and major productions are hoping to be able to start shooting sometime this Fall. In the meantime, on TV, be prepared for Networks to buy, repurpose and air “slightly watched” content. Case in point is what the CW is going to do with the CBS All Access show Tell Me A Story and the DC Universe show Swamp Thing. The road ahead is uncharted, but not impossible. It’s going to take patience, ingenuity, and compromise. The theater-going and concert attending experience will return in some form and television will eventually get back to its regularly scheduled program. Showbiz adopted a phrase that originated in 19th century circuses, but has always remained true. The show must go on…