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'One Day At A Time' Tries A New Approach To Production During Coronavirus - Animation

Cast of "One Day At A Time". Season 4 on Pop TV. Seasons 1-3 on Netflix. (Courtesy of Pop TV)
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"One Day At a Time", the reboot of Norman Lear's 1975 series starring Rita Moreno, which ran on Netflix for three seasons, was shooting new episodes when the coronavirus hit.

First they canceled the live audiences. Then the whole production shut down.

They managed to finish six of their planned 13 episodes before the closure, and launched season four on its new home, the cable channel Pop TV. But no one was sure what would happen next.

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"We're all sort of in this state of limbo while conversations are being had all around the world about how to re-open." Gloria Calderon-Kellett, who co-created the "One Day At A Time" reboot with Mike Royce, told KPCC's Take Two. "We're literally taking it one day at a time. It is the motto for these times."

The rest of their episodes sat, written and seemingly unproduce-able, when she had an idea.

"My husband is a cartoonist so cartoons and animation are around me all the time. And, you know, mama's just trying to keep the lights on," she said.

Calderon-Kellet had found a loophole, possibly the only way to make a show without gathering a large crew of production folks and actors. The show creators could take one of the episodes that was a stand-alone story and animate it.

"It's about the election so it's also something that's fairly timely...and it doesn't seem like we'll be able to shoot it before November," Calderon-Kellett said.

The cast had a table read yesterday via Zoom and Calderon-Kellett teased an "exciting guest cast" that is still under wraps. As for the animation, they're using a Canadian company called Smiley Guy, which has 100 employees working from home, who the company says can pull it off "fairly quickly."

The episode will air in the coming months.

Calderon-Kellett said that her boss at Pop TV, President Bradley Schwartz, floated the idea of testing all cast and crew and having them live on-set for the duration of production, calling it "drama camp." That idea is actually going into practice at the Atlanta studio of Tyler Perry.

Perry, who currently has a multi-year partnership with the Oprah Winfrey Network, told Deadline that he'd start production in June on his (many) TV shows, while abiding by "a strict protocol that involves testing and sequestering the shows' cast and crew on the sprawling lot." Meaning everyone involved would have to live on set. We're imagining this would look something like a Medea-themed summer camp/hippie compound.

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Calderon-Kellett says it's "where basically everyone is tested once at the beginning. They are sequestered to his studio campus, where food and everything is brought in to them. No one leaves for the two and a half weeks of production."

But Gloria Calderon-Kellett can't imagine putting her people up in a hotel and shutting them off from their families for the length of production, which would last for months, rather than weeks. "What we would need is a fast [COVID-19] test, that is indeed fast, [so] you can test 100 people every day before they walk into the workplace," she explained.

Once that day comes...will they have a live studio audience?

"I think the main thing is how do we get back on these sets with our crew. I think that unfortunately the live audience element will have to go by the wayside for a little while."

To hear the full interview with Gloria Calderon-Kellet, listen to this segment from today's episode of Take Two: