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Australia’s ‘Neighbours’ First Soap Back In Production During COVID-19; Will Their Blueprint For Safety Be Used By Others To Follow?

Photo: Fremantle Media

The soap that is going back into production first, and actually the first show, period, amidst the coronavirus pandemic is none other than Australia’s Neighbours.

Production is scheduled to start later this week and then in full-swing next week.  According to a statement from the series producers, Fremantle Media “(On Monday) we returned from a scheduled production break, originally two weeks that we extended to three weeks to give our production team time to refine our production model to meet the gov’t guidelines re. health & safety and social distancing. We will be filming with a small unit this Thursday and then full production resumes Monday,”

As to how the show will be filmed to protect the cast and crew during the continued COVID-19 pandemic, Fremantle offered up “Due to the style of our show and the vast size of our production studios and back lot, we realized we are in a position to resume filming in a way that protects everyone’s health and still delivers the Neighbours viewers know and love.”

Neighbours premiered back in 1985  and while over the years it has jumped to different broadcasters (it is currently on Peach formerly Eleven in Australia) it still has not deviated from its 22-minutes per episode, five episodes per week schedule. The soap is licensed in over 60 countries. . If Neighbours did not restart production it would have run out of episodes by June.

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As to the filming guidelines that the series has set up to begin taping new episodes, here is what we know via Deadline:  “The studio space has been divided into quadrants, with three production teams isolated from each other and only three actors allowed to cross between the groups. Because of that setup, if someone gets sick, only the group whose member is affected will be suspended and the shoot can continue with the other two groups.   There will be a nurse on set, and everyone entering the site will have their temperatures checked;   Male actors will have no make-up, female actors will not be touched up;  There will be no physical contact between actors including kissing, holding hands or intimate scenes;  Actors will also practice social distancing, with camera trickery used to make them look closer together;  There will be be no outside extras, with crew members already on set doubling as background performers.”

Fremantle shared that no pressure has been put on cast and crew to return, if they are not comfortable. Special measures have been taken for older employees, and the company says it is willing to make further adjustments.

Commenting on the lack of kisses and hand-holding coming on newly-filmed episodes of the soap, Chris Oliver-Taylor, the chief executive at Fremantle Australia told ABC Australia.“It’s going to look a bit odd.  But, Neighbours is a show that can get away with it.  We employ hundreds of staff who want to work and feel they can. It’s important we continue to produce a show that reaches millions of people in he UK and a significant audience in Australia.”

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So, what do you think of the safety precautions Neighbours is implementing to begin shooting new episodes of the soap?  Id this the blueprint others might follow in the U.S. to start up our soaps and TV productions? Comment below.

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Ellen
Ellen

I hope they are successful and their measures can be used or tweaked to help other people get back to work.

Jimh
Jimh

Foreign soaps do many outdoor scenes which ours do rarely…maybe ours could still do something like this…no people at the bars..no bedroom scenes…maybe on Days for example…at the Dimera Mansion Chad is on the phone with Abigail in split scenes while Gabi stands 6ft away in the doorway arguing with Chad and Abby who is on speaker-lol-this way you get all three in the scene!!!

Su000
Su000

All soaps have a lot of hugging and kissing
and phoney sex..
the characters are quite close, in all scenes..
ahaa imaging this;
making out wearing protective gear.
it could be scary for the actors, actually.

Momo
Momo

Wow. that’s very different. We’ll see if it can work.

Rodd
Rodd

The next couple of weeks will be scary. I’m sure a lot of eyes will be monitoring what goes on on that set to see if they succeed or not. I hope they all stay healthy. If that does happen, other shows in the US may follow.

My concern, first and foremost, is for the cast and crew. As a loyal soap fan all my life, I will watch my shows whenever they return. In the meantime, I’ll gladly remain vigilante for any news on them.

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Hollywood Studios, Producers & Guilds Send Plan To Gov. Newsom and Gov. Cuomo For COVID-19 Production Restart Guidelines

On Monday, the two states with the most television and film production in the United States (California and New York) received a plan from many Hollywood studios, producers and the entertainment and production guilds of a plan and outline to be able to rejigger and restart production of your favorite shows and films.  This includes the soaps: General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of our Lives.

Via Deadline: In an effort to get the industry moving-forward again where jobs were lost or put on hold, and production were completely stalled out-of-the-blue, the guidelines submitted by “The Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force (the “Task Force”) is asking for consideration and adoption for the resumption of motion picture, television, and streaming productions in an environment that minimizes the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19,” says a report for Governors Gavin Newsom of California and Andrew Cuomo of New York.

Photo: AP

You can read the details of the report here.  While there has been no word from the Governors and their offices if they have seen the report, bets are that several more steps will be needed before anyone would head and report back to a set yet.

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As one would expect, limiting contact, social distancing, regular temperature checks, ways to handle props, and a COVID-19 compliance officer for all productions are part of the proposal.   As well as virtual writers room meetings, avoiding filming on-location as much as possible and filming in front of large audiences.

So, glad to know that this major step has been taken to try to get production back on track in Hollywood and New York? Comment below.

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Breaking News

British Soap ‘Coronation Street’ Set To Resume Production Next Week Following COVID-19 Shutdown

Will American soaps soon follow the Brits, and be able to start up your favorite soap towns again? While production entities await for guidelines from the state of California and the city of Los Angeles, across the bond, ITV’s Coronation Street has set next Tuesday, June 9th to begin filming new episodes of the popular drama.

Coronation Street had been on  10-week mandatory shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping our globe.  The return to start up the show keeps the soap on-air throughout July and then ongoing.  There will be three episodes filmed each week at their studios in Manchester.

Along with ITV’s Emmerdale, and  other programs, Coronation Street is returning to production under the UK’s guidelines and  safety protocols for COVID-19.

According to Deadline that will include: crew members designated to a specific studio or exterior lot  …  social distancing will be observed … cast and crew will have daily temperature checks, while older and more vulnerable members of the team won’t be part of the new episodes during the initial period of filming.

In a statement, John Whiston, ITV’s managing director of continuing drama, said: “Getting to this point has taken a huge amount of work and goodwill from a huge number of people, not least our cast and crew. With the peak past, all indications are that the time is right for a return to filming.  And with the extensive protocols we have put in place, we have made our workplace as safe as possible. I’m sure our audience will appreciate having the show they love continue on air. For many who have written in it is a vital escape from all the fears and stresses this virus brings in its wake.”

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So, do you the news on “Corrie” spells a brighter outlook for the American daytime dramas to begin production shortly in some capacity? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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As The World Turns

ATWT and ‘Vampire Diaries’ Alum, Zach Roerig Arrested For DUI

Another actor has been arrested for a DUI, and this one happened over Memorial Day Weekend.

News out of TMZ is that former As the World Turns actor, Zach Roerig (Ex-Casey), who went to appear in CW’s Vampire Diaries was taken in by the cops.

According to the report: “Zach was busted Sunday around 2:30 AM in Montpelier, Ohio. Police tell us, officers noticed Zach’s pickup truck did not have a front license plate, so they pulled him over.”

Apparently when the officer went up to the driver’s side window they noticed that Zach’s slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and say he, “reeked of booze”.

Roerig was arrested for  for a misdemeanor and was held overnight in a holding cell.  He was later released.

Photo: JPI

Zach’s arraignment is set as of now for June 4th.

ATWT fans will remember Zach as part of the younger set in Oakdale comprised of: multi-Daytime Emmy winner Jennifer Landon (Ex-Gwen), Jesse Sofer (Ex-Will) and Alexandra Chando (Ex-Maddie), all who went on to primetime fame during their careers.

So, what do you think about the latest past or present soap star receiving a DUI? Remember Zach on ATWT? Comment below.

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