TLC continued filming My 600-lb Life even as most shows shut down production during the coronavirus pandemic. Production on the series, which focuses on severely overweight cast members, reportedly kept the cameras rolling as late as March 26. TLC and series producer Megalomedia finally shut production down a day later.
Between March 20 and 26, My 600-lb Life was filming in Texas, Florida and Mississippi, according to documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter and insiders who spoke with the outlet. At that time, none of those states had statewide stay-at-home orders, although some counties in Florida and Texas put those orders in place. Texas finally instituted a statewide order on April 2, while Florida's and Mississippi's orders went into effect on April 3.
"The health and safety of Megalomedia's show participants and employees is always our top priority, now more than ever," Megalomedia, which is based in Austin, Texas, told THR on March 27. "We continue to comply with all local, state, and federal guidelines that cover this unprecedented pandemic. My 600-lb Life is not filming with a single participant at this time."
"The safety of our show talent, crews and employees is our top priority," TLC added. "Production on My 600-lb Life has stopped and will not resume until the crisis is resolved. It is our sincere wish that our talent, crews and their families are being safe and staying healthy during this unprecedented time."
THR obtained call sheets and wrap sheets showing filming continuing through March 26, even as other television productions were suspended by then. Sources said they were worried about the crew members' safety and for the cast members, who are among those most at-risk to become seriously ill if they contract the illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said severely obese people, those with a Body Mass Index at or higher than 40 are at risk.
Sources showed THR internal group chats where one crewmember mentioned that a cast member's hospital was already on lockdown and they could not film there. The cast member also refused to go to Houston, fearing they would contract the coronavirus. The cast member was allegedly told not to mention the coronavirus while cameras rolled.
"These cast members have a compromised immune system already," one source told THR. "They're not OK. They're not feeling comfortable. It's super dangerous and none of us wants to be the person who gives it to the cast member."0comments
My 600-lb Life, which finished airing its eighth season on April 1, haslong been the target of criticism. Last week, Starcasm reported Nicole Lewis became the seventh castmember to sue Megalomedia, and the sixth to sue for unpaid medical bills. Lewis alleged the company committed fraud by telling her they would cover her medical bills, but they "failed to pay for the surgeries and medical care and this has caused her injury and damages." In a January lawsuit, star L.B. Bonner's family accused Megalomedia of pressuring him into filming. Bonner took his own life in 2018.
Another castmember died on Friday. James King, who lived in Nashville, Tennessee, was 49 years old and appeared on the series in 2018. King continued struggling with his weight after his season wrapped, as a 2019 follow-up episode showed he weighted 840 pounds.