Last Week’s Episode: Back to Production, Pandemic Be Damned?

Last Week's Episode

Hardly anyone in power can make up their mind about anything these days. Release the movie? Delay the movie? Start school? Delay school? Anybody else experiencing news whiplash? Kayne West is running for president? I somehow did not have that on my 2020 Bingo card. Only five more months to get through y’all. Thanks for hanging in there with us. Here’s a sampling of the latest entertainment news from this week.

One thing we should all agree on is that everyone who can, should wear masks in public. Why? Because Science. Meanwhile, the debate on how and when to restart Hollywood continues.

To Reopen or Not to Reopen

Earlier in July, the NYC film commissioner thought that reopening production in August would be a “safe bet”. But now COVID-19 is posed to be the second-leading cause of death in California this year. Only coronary heart disease has claimed more lives. They’re seeing a rise in hospitalizations of young adults especially. AMC has pushed back reopening theaters yet again. [Variety] It does not look like things will be going back to normal (whatever that means) any time soon.

More than 230,000 Californians in the arts and recreation industries have applied for unemployment. [Deadline] But hey, looks like they’ll be getting a women’s soccer team in 2022! Not all bad news right? We have Serena Williams, Natalie Portman, and Mia Hamm plus a bunch of financiers to thank for this. In all seriousness, this sounds pretty cool. But it’s hard to imagine that far in the future right now. [Link]

At least some people have managed to create new work during this time. (Definitely not me. Can someone tell me the secret to pandemic productivity?) Zendaya posted the steamy black and white still photo above to her Twitter account shortly after her new movie Malcolm & Marie was announced. After quickly being written by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson at the actress’ request, the film was shot June 17-July 2 on location with all the necessary approvals. [Link] The film’s description is vague, but it will probably be released before co-star John David Washington’s Tenet. As we reported last week, the Christopher Nolan film continues to push off its release due to needing a big box office return to offset its 800 million dollar budget. [IndieWire]

Tyler Perry has so far proven that a quarantine bubble may be an effective way to return to film and TV production. The second season of his BET show Sistas will wrap production next week and then The Oval‘s team will start to arrive end of July. Other industries like pro sports are also trying this method, with mixed results. [Deadline]

While some American schools are delaying opening at all until after Labor Day, some are yielding to the administration’s pressure to reopen and save the economy at the expense of teachers and students. Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters released a statement on Soundcloud titled “In Defense of Our Teachers” and makes a plea for a better return to school plan that prioritizes public school teachers like his mother. [Variety]

The Announcements Section

Last week we reported the horrifying news that there were zero Latinx shows left on Network Television, but an announcement by NBC this week gives us a little hope there might be more new shows with Latinx leads on the horizon. Otmara Marrero of StartUp will play the main character of Connecting, a comedy set during the Coronavirus quarantine. Too soon, maybe? We’ll see. I’ll take it if it means more representation on TV in our future. [Deadline]

In other news of representation, Billy Eichner will play Paul Lynde in a new biopic titled Man in the Box. In this interview, Eichner connects the struggles Lynde went through being passed over for roles because he never lied about his sexuality and the lack of modern LGBTQ+ actors being cast as their own icons. [Deadline]

We particularly liked this Twitter reaction thread. Click through for the whole thing including Paul Lynde gifs.

Maybe the five new songs by ABBA or the new Taylor Swift album will drown out the sound of my children enough to find that pandemic productivity we’re all searching for. Yes, you heard that right. ABBA has pushed back their holographic avatar tour but will have new songs in 2021. At least the producer of the Mamma Mia! movie musicals, Judy Cramer, admitted that COVID fog has kept her from developing a third movie to round out the trilogy. [Deadline]

Despite lots of drama over the rights to her previous catalog, Taylor Swift somehow managed to co-write and record an entirely new album titled Folklore (Editor’s note: see also, Charlie XCX’s how i’m feeling now). In a surprise announcement today, it turns out the album will be released at midnight and Swifties can, of course, pre-order through her website. [Rolling Stone] The music video for “cardigan” [sic] will be released later this evening. Is it just me, or is this a very different aesthetic for the technicolor pop icon?

SAG-AFTRA members ratified a new film and TV contract that includes 54 million additional funds for the union’s health plan as well as added protection against sexual harassment and for those shooting nude scenes. It also included an increase in residuals for streaming shows. After intense negotiating, this new contract shows an awareness of how streaming is changing the industry and the need for creating safer workplaces. Hopefully, this will set an example for other industries to make changes that better the health and wellness of their employees. (One can dream, right?) [Deadline]

Next Tuesday you can watch the Emmy Nominations live on their website or one of these streaming services. There’s already wild speculation about who will get recognized for their outstanding performances this year and who will be overlooked. [IndieWire] I’m sure there will be a lot to comment on in next week’s column!

Final Thoughts

As production does pick up speed, can we remember all the things brought to light over the past few months and even years. There needs to be better representation across all areas of the industry. In front of the lens, behind the lens, in the cutting room, in the writers’ room, and as this recent article points out also backstage. Last week The Bold Type star Aisha Dee published a letter asking for better representation and gave details of her experience as a bi-racial actor. She joined a growing number of voices pointing out that the makeup and hair department is one area that particularly affects Black actors. [Variety] In Variety’s #Represent: Black Men in Hollywood roundtable, one aspect of this the male actors talked about was how difficult it is for them to get their barbers into the hair and makeup unions, so they can actually get their hair cut on set rather than drive to their barber or a hotel if on location. [Variety] Actor Ryan Michelle Bathé told Variety she once had a contract that said if she had natural hair the show was “not responsible financially or otherwise for your hair, and performers must come to set with it done.” Actors should not have to be responsible for their own hair and makeup.

Anjelika Washington recently posted on Instagram about an incident in 2017 when she had to speak up for herself about the studio putting her stunt double in blackface. Rather than recognizing this egregious mistake, Washington was told she should feel lucky to be there. [Instagram] These types of testimonies from BIPOC actors need to stay at the forefront of everyone’s minds as Hollywood resumes work. The layers of systemic racism are deep in all areas of production and need to be addressed.

Demand better representation.

Wear a mask.

Stay safe out there.

Lola Watson

Lola Watson

I'm a community college professor, nerd, and mom who collects comics, knits, and procrastinates a whole host of other hobbies in my lack of spare time. My research focuses on using technology in the classroom, pop culture, children's literature, and comics.

One thought on “Last Week’s Episode: Back to Production, Pandemic Be Damned?

  1. Word of advice to anyone with even a hint of authority: if you ever find yourself telling anybody, for any reason, "You should feel lucky/grateful to be here", YOU ARE NOT THE GOOD GUY.

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