Several TV shows are returning from the holiday hiatus and preparing to finish off the back half of their respective seasons. However, CBS Studios has pushed production for five prominent shows, including a long-running drama, due to COVID-19. NCIS is among those series that will reportedly delay the return to work for a few weeks.
According to Deadline, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health urged the film and TV industry to "consider pausing production" for a few weeks due to the surging coronavirus numbers in the area. County officials extended the stay-at-home orders for the area, moving the new date to Jan. 16. Additionally, the outlet reports that other TV studios and streamers are reviewing the ongoing situation and potential logistical issues. With several questions circulating about talent availability, there could be even more delays across the industry.
CBS Studios has pushed the return-to-production dates for five shows from the current holiday hiatus, including NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles. Additionally, CBS Studios reportedly pushed the dates for SEAL Team, Why Women Kill (CBS All Access) and Diary of a Future President (Disney+). These shows are all now scheduled to return to production on Jan. 11, alongside other series set to return later in the month.
"Although music, TV and film productions are allowed to operate, we ask you to strongly consider pausing work for a few weeks during this catastrophic surge in Covid cases," said the letter from the health department to the entertainment industry, per FilmLA. "Identify and delay higher risk activities, and focus on lower-risk work for now, if at all possible."
In addition to requesting a potential pause on production, the health department also asked FilmLA to pass along a message to filmmakers. "Travel for production purposes is currently not advised," the message said. The letter also said that California allows travel for productions, but this also "increases COVID risk by making it more likely that people will end up together in vehicles or indoors in less-controlled settings." Citing the number of people hospitalized in California, the health department asked industry figures to keep cast and crew members close to home.
NCIS star Mark Harmon recently reflected on the longtime show reaching 400 numbers and the changes to Season 18. Instead of the standard 24 episodes, the show will only have 16 in the new slate due to coronavirus complications. The actor heard about the change and called it "a shock" to some people.
"My concerns get to be about a crew that is expecting to do more shows than they're going to do and that's a loss, so that loss is about taking the responsibility of that in some ways and... hopefully there will be a season beyond this that there's something to look forward to in the future where we're not going to be wearing the masks and maybe we're not going to be doing shortened seasons again. We'll get back to a full order," Harmon said to ET.