Hollywood Gets Green Light from Newsom, But Hurdles Remain

Gov. Newsom says Hollywood can resume production as soon as June 12, but L.A. County will give the final green light.

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He's hardly a director, but Gov. Gavin Newsom has said the word Hollywood has been waiting to hear: Action!

Newsom, through the California Department of Public Health, announced late Friday that film and television production can restart as soon as June 12. But rather than give a blanket green light to every show and movie poised to get cameras rolling, the governor's instructions included several caveats, some of which may present problems for work in Los Angeles County.

The resumption of production is "subject to approval by county public health officers," Newsom said, adding that crews must obey "safety protocols agreed by labor and management, which may be further enhanced by county public health officers."

The governor previously said that even if parts of the state are slowly reopening, Los Angeles County, with new confirmed coronavirus cases still topping 1,000 a day, would likely trail other counties in completely restarting.


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What's more, while draft guidelines prepared by Hollywood leaders and unions earlier this week outlined a series of potential workplace rules, there is not yet industry-wide agreement on what those mandatory standards should be or how they will be enforced.

The state's proposals were expected two weeks ago and followed a series of meetings between Newsom and Hollywood executives and filmmakers about the health and safety issues facing a business decimated by the pandemic, where hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs when almost all live action production stopped in March.

In its 22-page report released on Monday, an industry task force organized by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers published a variety of ideas for health testing and infection prevention on film and TV sets, including a mandatory on-set coronavirus monitor.

That report also detailed how social distancing might work on a typically crowded set.

"Limiting face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19," the report said. "Cast and crew must practice physical distancing ... of at least 6 feet from any other person at all times, except when doing so is incompatible with one's job duties. Cast and crew should avoid congregating in groups. When practical, separate work locations into zones to facilitate physical distancing."

Those guidelines also called for the minimization (or elimination) of certain sequences where actors must work in close proximity to one another — such as romantic and fight scenes — without protective gear such as masks.

The actors' union, SAG-AFTRA, said in a statement that the Monday report was a "realistic first step to protecting cast and crew in the reopening of the entertainment and media industry."

The British government and an alliance of broadcasters also announced guidelines for the resumption of production in the U.K.

LISTEN TO A ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION:

John Horn discusses the industry task force report with Dr. Daniel Z. Uslan of UCLA Health; Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief operating officer and general counsel of SAG-AFTRA, the union representing media artists; and Charles Rivkin, chairman and chief executive officer of the Motion Picture Association.