Tyler Perry revealed in May that he would begin shooting his BET shows “Sistas” and “The Oval” in July. His announcement came at a time when the current pandemic left much of the U.S. entertainment industry at a standstill with no set schedule to resume productions.
“Sistas” has already 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, which Perry talked about during a July 29 interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
“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 Monday, July 13, got tested, and had to stay in their rooms until results came in. From there, everybody was tested every four days while shooting was underway.
The media mogul also said that he empathizes with people’s leery feelings about returning to work amid a pandemic, especially since he’s already lost a crew member.
In April, Perry announced on Instagram that hairstylist Charles Gregory had died from COVID-19.
“After losing a crew member to COVID that was on another production at the very beginning of this thing, clearly I understand the nervousness, I understand the trepidation, and they should enter with extreme caution,” Perry said in a separate interview with Deadline. “But I tell you, if you can’t test everyone every day, I don’t know how you do this unless it’s a quarantine bubble. I don’t know another way, because COVID could be among you and spreading and you not know it.”