'Voice,' 'Late Late Show' EPs Yearn for an End to Remote Production: "It's Not Sustainable"

Audrey Morrissey and Rob Crabbe-Split-Getty-H 2020
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Michael Bezjian/WireImage

A host of shows switched to remote production when the coronavirus pandemic shut down in-studio work across the industry in March. Even as they've adapted to filming remotely, some producers are hoping for a return to how things were.

"I hope it's not sustainable, because I don't want to keep doing it that way," Late Late Show With James Corden executive producer Rob Crabbe said during a TV Academy-sponsored panel titled "The Pivot" at the ATX TV Festival — which is itself taking place remotely this year rather than on the ground in Austin.

The Voice showrunner Audrey Morrissey agreed that remote production would be tough to maintain in the long term, noting the increased amount of time it took to produce the NBC competition's final rounds remotely in May. "What would normally be a one-hour camera rehearsal [in studio] turned into five hours" while filming remotely, she said. 

Complicating things, of course, are that no one is certain what sets will look like when studio filming is able to resume. Simone Missick of CBS' All Rise — who starred in the first remotely filmed episode of a current scripted series — and Roswell, New Mexico showrunner Carina MacKenzie both noted that background actors will likely be fewer and (literally) farther between if they're used at all. 

Warner Bros. TV, which produces Roswell, has circulated loose guidelines to reduce "intimate contact" between actors — "kissing, hugging and fighting," as MacKenzie put it. "That's my show."

Morrissey and Crabbe both noted that when they're able to return to their studios, they'd prefer to do it without a live audience if the alternative is a socially distanced one that leaves the studio less than half full.

"It would be hard for us to do with a sparse audience," Crabbe said. "I think it would be unfulfilling for us to have 35 people in the room, all 10 fee apart. I don't think that would be something we'd really embrace."

Morrissey agreed: "If there's no mass [to the audience], there's no energy. It's not worth it."