UPDATE (5/20/2020): Tyler Perry spoke about reopening his studio to Variety, saying he was “excited” about getting back to work. “I’m excited about being able to make sure that people can take care of themselves and support their families, but also excited about setting a template here that I think could work everywhere.”
He added that he will test his “drastically” reduced crew and actors when they come to the studio and before production begins. Along with being tested four more times throughout the two and a half weeks of shooting, everyone will be required to wear protective masks, with meals served in “catering pods” on Perry’s largest soundstage to allow people to practice social distancing. Group scenes will be filmed after the fourth day on set once everyone has been retested.
Also, along with Perry flying cast members not residing in Atlanta in on his private plane, Perry’s cast and crew will live on his studio campus, harkening back to the campus’ original life as an army compound. Perry told Variety, “It’s really a military effort–and no better place to do that than a former military base.”
Previously reported (05/13/2020): Fresh off the heels of BET’s renewals of The Oval and Sistas, Tyler Perry is showing signs of reopening his studios to continue production of the two series.
Variety confirmed that Tyler Perry Studios will start production on Sistas again July 8, and production on The Oval will start July 28. The trade publication was told that filming for both series, which have been ordered for 22 episodes each, will be done over the course of two and a half weeks.
How will Perry keep everyone safe during the shoot? Variety reports a source saying that Perry is “doing everything by the book,” including working with local officials and unions. Perry will use his personal private plane to fly castmembers from New York and Los Angeles to Atlanta, where most of the casts for both series are already located.
The castmembers who must fly in will be tested for COVID-19 beforehand. All members of cast and crew will be tested again and wait for the four-hour time period for results before they are officially cleared to start filming. Testing will also take place four times across the duration of the two and a half weeks, with Emory Vaccine Center professor Carlos Del Rio acting as the production’s testing consultant. As Perry said back a few weeks ago, all cast and crew will be quarantined on the lot.
The Oval and Sistas are rated as BET’s highest-viewed shows, coming in as the No. 1 and No. 2 new scripted cable dramas.