Tyler Perry Says Two Actors Tested Positive for the Coronavirus

Tyler Perry
LOS ANGELES, CA. October 01, 2019: Tyler Perry at the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Ceremony honoring Tyler Perry. Pictures: Paul Smith/Featureflash - Image

Actors test positive for Coronavirus on as production resumes on Tyler Perry’s ‘The Oval’.

Update August 3, 2020: In May, Tyler Perry revealed he will start shooting his BET shows “Sistas” and “The Oval” in July. The announcement came as much of the film industry was in a shutdown with no timeline to resume productions.

As we previously reported, “Sistas” completed shooting at Perry’s Atlanta studio, but four people tested positive for the virus when they arrived. Two of them were crew members and two were extras. Tyler Perry talked about the obstacles of resuming production in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter on July 29th.

“We had a couple of concerns,” he explained. “We had four positives. Here’s how it went: We had 160 people check in the first day, go to their rooms, get tested and wait for their results. Nobody was able to leave their rooms. We had two positives in that. So we had them escorted out and got the help that they needed.”

“Then 200 people checked in [soon after] and we had two positive inside of the 200. We had them escorted out and got them the help that they needed. So we had four before anybody left their rooms, before anybody started work. Those rooms were kept closed and off limits to anybody until after we finished shooting.”

“Sistas” finished filming its 22-episode season on Saturday, July 25, in just 11 days, while “The Oval” was supposed to start shooting on Thursday, July 30. But those plans may have to be changed, since a couple of cast members tested positive for the novel coronavirus before traveling to Perry’s studio.

“Unfortunately I have two cast members that have tested positive,” he said. “They’re reoccurring. So I’m trying to figure out, what do I do? Do I add two days of shooting to the end of the other shows that I’m working on to give them time to be negative? But they’re asymptomatic. So I’m just waiting to see what the best way to do that is. But everything will flow just as ‘Sistas’ did.”

“One person is in North Carolina and the other person is in Atlanta, so they wouldn’t be on a plane flying in,” added Perry. “So we’re just waiting. We need two negative tests before they can come back to work.”

The cast and crew of “Sistas” arrived at the studio on July 13th. They received tests and stayed in their rooms until results came in. From there, everyone is tested every four days while shooting was underway.

Tyler Perry wraps production on ‘Sistas’ with ‘The Oval’ to film next.

Update July 30, 2020: After wrapping production on his BET series “Sistas” without a COVID-19 during the two-week shoot. Now, production for “The Oval” is ramping up as the cast and crew are setting up to arrive at Tyler Perry Studios on Thursday. Tyler Perry says there is not much he plans to do differently this time around, especially when it comes to wearing masks and around the campus.

“I made sure that the cast and crew and everybody wore their masks when they weren’t on set because I do know for a fact that masks help stop the spread — scientifically, I know that,” Perry tells Variety. “And everybody adhered to that, even though we were all testing negative. I just didn’t want someone to be incubating with [COVID-19] for three to 12 days, and we not know it.”

Tyler Perry and the production crew for “Sistas” wore their masks for 12 to 14 hours at a time while shooting the 22-episode season.

“Listen, I was the mask police. Every time I saw something I was screaming about it,” Perry says. “It’s summer in Georgia so credit to the crew — it’s burning up here and they were still doing the right thing. So, I gave a lot more breaks for people to have water because we had a couple people that got dehydrated from all the heat, and the water breaks were actually the ‘breath break’ where you can pull your mask down, drink some water and get some fresh air.”

Tyler Perry talked about setting the tone and being a leader on set. “For me, once I got the actors comfortable seeing me looking like a man from outer space, it was fine. But you’ve got to remember that I direct in a wig and a dress sometimes so that wasn’t as odd for me,” he joked with Variety.

Tyler Perry worked with leaders in the health and science community to perfect the quarantine bubble. Tyler Perry’s team includes Emory University’s Dr. Carlos Del Rio, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Dr. Colleen Kraft. Together they created a testing schedule and a nasal swab test administered upon arrival at Tyler Perry Studios.

“Every fourth day was so important and that’s when my anxiety was raised most, [especially] in those first two tests, because I was so concerned,” he recalls.

The first 150 cast and crew moved into Tyler Perry Studios, two people tested positive during the initial period. The next 200 people arrived a few days later, two more people tested positive during their first test. Those total four people never worked on set and received medical attention.

“I felt this wave of relief after the last test results, where everybody was negative, I was like, ‘Okay, we pulled it off,’ so I’m so proud of my crew,” Perry says, celebrating his group of “underdogs” for the achievement. “I don’t know how any other production, if you’re not in quarantine, I don’t know how you do it, but testing is key.”

Tyler Perry took care to address COVID-19 behind the scenes, he says his show will not discuss the pandemic.

“All these scripts were finished right at the time that COVID started to show up,” Perry explains. “And also, what I know about COVID is people are tired of hearing of it, and entertainment is escape, so I don’t think my audience want to brought into more of what is happening in their reality. All of my work has been about escapism, so I’m just going to hold to escapism.”

He did explain the biggest challenge was a reduced crew size. Perry explains they reduced production to about 80 to 100 people. When asked if he will continue to reduce crew sizes in the future he says, there is a chance.

“I think that the producers and the people who are controlling the purse strings would definitely want to hold it to this [size],” Perry says. “But I can tell you that it was stressful on some of my crew, because they were down people. So, I would make sure that they had what they needed to continue this way.”

Tyler Perry also discussed working with fewer background extras. “The extras are a problem, especially when you’re doing big scenes and you only have 10 extras. You’re changing their clothes, moving them around the room and hoping that people don’t recognize them, trying to shoot the back of their heads or having the crew jump in and be extras. That was a challenge. Some things I think we will be good for this [to continue], but others won’t work.”

Tyler Perry says filming in the pandemic is expensive Michelle Sneed the president of production and development for Tyler Perry told Variety how it cost much more to produce the series.

“The most important thing is to trust people to do their job and to be able to acclimate to whatever these COVID standards are,” Sneed says. “What COVID does for production is slow it down — it costs money and it slows it down. So, our thing was, is it going to be ridiculous for cast to wear masks? Can a cast member really take off their mask as soon as they open their mouth to do a scene? Absolutely — they can and they did. Can our camera people really wear a face shield with a mask even if he wears eyeglasses. Absolutely, yes he did. So I think it’s trusting these professionals and crew to do what they have to do.”

Tyler Perry added over 300 one-bedroom housing units with private bathrooms and 60 housing units for cast and crew. He also purchased 70 golf carts for transporting cast and crew around the campus. The biggest cost was acquiring the different kinds of PPP equipment. “We’d discover we have to get the $15 per face shield, versus the $3 one that we had budgeted for, for departments that rely heavily on face shields, or get these version of the goggles for this department, so that really adds up,” she explains.

When it came to entertaining the cast and crew during the shutdown, Tyler Perry explained, “When you’ve got 360 adults were working these kinds of hours, of course, I had to have a bar, food trucks, and movie night on the lawn and church on Sunday, so that people could feel like they were at least not in prison,” Perry says.

Tyler Perry concluded the interview by offering advice to aspiring filmmakers, actors, and producers. ““I come from a people who had to find a way — make your own way, own your own way, build your business, build your studio. That’s my mentality, so rather than asking Hollywood what they can do, I want to see more people like me, just come in and own, and take a sledgehammer to anything that is unjust,” he explains. “Ownership is what really changes things long term, because what happens is, when there’s a movement, people get excited and they’re with it. But when it fades, things tend to go back to where they were. If there are more people in ownership and more people in power and more people rising through the ranks in Hollywood, I think that is that is the change that is really needed to make a long-term difference.”

Tyler Perry‘s ‘Sistas’ starting production in Atlanta, Georgia with ‘The Oval’ to quickly follow.

Update July 15, 2020 – Tyler Perry’s BET series ‘Sistas’ started production this week. The cast and the crew of the series had been quarantined at the Atlanta-based Tyler Perry Studios since last week when actors were flown in from Los Angeles and New York on Tyler Perry’s private plane.

According to Deadline, the cast has tested negative and filming started on Tuesday night with a night shoot.

If ‘Sistas’ is able to finish its second season as planed, the cast and crew from Tyler Perry’s other BET series ‘The Oval’ will start filming July 30 for the Season 2 production.

As we previously reported, both shows will follow Tyler Perry’s filming guidelines which include strict testing and quadrating the shows cast and crew on his 330-acre studio.

Update May 13, 2020 – Tyler Perry will resume production on two shows starting this July in Atlanta, Georgia following the Coronavirus shutdown.

Several weeks ago, Tyler Perry was one of the first Hollywood producers to create a plan to restart filming. Now, he is the first producer to announce start dates for his television shows. On July 8, Tyler Perry will start two BET series including ‘Sistas’ and ‘The Oval’. As a result, production will start shortly at Tyler Perry Studios.

Related: Looking for a Job? Tyler Perry Studios is Now Hiring

According to Deadline, ‘Sistas’ will start filming on July 8 in Atlanta, Georgia, and ‘The Oval’ will start filming on July 28th. Both series were renewed by BET after receiving high ratings in their first seasons. Tyler Perry will reportedly film 44 episodes in a little over one month.

The facility will have strict rules that include testing and keeping the cast and crew on Tyler Perry Studios’ 330-acre lot. Tyler Perry is expected to remain on the lot for the duration of the shoot along with the cast and crew. The existing homes on the former military base will provide housing for everyone working on the show.

Perry described to Deadline he spoke with leading unions to set guidelines during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Deadline reports Perry’s precautions are expected to surpass other guidelines in other production companies.

Perry was clear he would only start production if every cast member was okay with returning. The news outlet reports Tyler Perry held video conference calls with the cast of his shows to showcase his production plans. After testing, the cast will fly to Atlanta. Once they arrive, everyone will be tested and quarantined for four hours as they await results. The cast and crew will be tested 4 times over the course of filming and Emory Vaccine Center professor Carlos Del Rio will serve as the testing consultant.

If successful, Tyler Perry’s quick response to the pandemic will lay the foundation for other production companies to follow.

Original Post – May 7, 2020: Tyler Perry is reopening up Tyler Perry Studios

A studio spokesperson told GBPNews the studio will reopen in a limited capacity. Changes to the studio include temporary on-site housing for production crews and staff.

Earlier this week, a special meeting of the Fort McPherson Board of Directors was called and a resolution was passed to lease a portion of the property to create temporary housing on the Tyler Perry Studio campus.

“The goal of resolution and agreement is to make sure that the talented staff and crews can be housed safely while getting people back to work during this unprecedented financial and health-related crisis,” Fort Mac spokesman Mark Hayes said.

Tyler Perry owns the 330-acre Tyler Perry Studios, which is the site of former U.S. Army military base Fort McPherson in East Point, Georgia. The studio currently has 12 soundstage and 200 acres of green space.

Original post – April 26, 2020: Tyler Perry is working on a plan to reopen Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta.

Tyler Perry’s Tyler Perry Studios is one of the most significant studio properties in the world. His production facilities are the home to several of his TV shows, movies, and Marvel’s ‘Black Panther‘.

Amid the Coronavirus COVID-19 Outbreak, many productions are struggling to find a way to bring back cast and crew safely. According to TMZ, Tyler Perry is planning on reopening his 330-acre Atlanta Studio Complex but, with some new rules.

TMZ’s sources say productions filmed at his facility will have the cast and crew check-in on the first day. Tyler Perry Studios will test everyone, and those who are found negative will be allowed on to the lot, where they will live for the duration of filming.

Considering the facility is a former army base, there are 141 barracks on-site. Also, Tyler Perry built 30 houses on the lot for various productions, which are all fully functional homes. Furthermore, TMZ reports if this is successful, Tyler Perry is considering building hotels.

The cast and crew can also use all of the facilities, including a gym, a bar, and restaurants. Tyler Perry built a hospital for one of the shows, and Tyler Perry believes he thinks it can become functional enough to hire medical staff, including doctors and nurses.

Netflix Tyler Perry Actors
New York, NY – January 13, 2020: Cast attends the premiere of Netflix A Fall From Grace at Metrograph (Editorial credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com)

Tyler perry would start with his productions, which are six TV shows. Each TV show takes about 2.5 weeks to film, so the cast and crew would show up and stay for just about three weeks. A few weeks later, the same team would return to shoot another season for the show. Also, cast and crew would get extra pay for filming during the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.

Related: Tyler Perry’s New BET Series is Now Hiring Atlanta Actors

That said, there are still issues such as small speaking roles and background extras? Or, what happens if a cast or crew member has to leave for emergency purposes. TMZ reports, Tyler Perry is checking with unions and other executives, but it sounds like a fantastic way to get filming back to Atlanta, Georgia.

In relevant news, Sweden and Denmark have restarted TV and movie production.

Sweden and Denmark are among the first countries in the world to put in place specific government guidelines and allow production to start.

The measures were listed in a document called the “Nordic Film Guide” made with production company Hobby Film and based data from both Sweden and Denmark. Hobby Film, which mostly makes commercials and is known for producing projects for H&M, Netflix, McDonald’s, and Heineken.

The new rules cancel the possibility of large crowd scenes and large production staff numbers.

“It is deemed irresponsible to execute crowd scenes where social distancing cannot be upheld to a satisfactory degree, as the risk of contagion is considered to be too high,” said the guide, sharing the example of a nightclub scene is a health risk.

Kissing and intimate scenes are not recommended for those older than 70. The Scandanavian website explains there “are no official rules regarding kissing, sex scenes and scenes that require one actor to touch another’s face,” casting actors at an “increased risk of severe illness.”

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