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Less than a day after TLC said that My 600-Lb. Life had shut down production amid the coronavirus outbreak, show crews kept up work in the field over this past weekend.
The medical drama nonfiction program and its spinoff Where Are They Now? was on location in at least two states — Louisiana and Mississippi — on Saturday and Sunday, The Hollywood Reporter has learned from multiple sources and documents obtained.
Louisiana implemented a stay-at-home order effective March 23, while Mississippi does not have a statewide policy in place, though officials are recommending social distancing. On Sunday night, Texas, where the show’s production company, Megalomedia, is based, implemented an order that travelers from Louisiana, among other states and cities, self-isolate for 14 days when arriving in the state.
Call sheets time-stamped the night before planned production provided to THR listed planned work in both states as “remote” voiceover, but crewmembers had to set up equipment in castmembers’ locations before they could record remotely. “Megalomedia is refusing to shut down,” one source says of the most recent production. “Everyone is just desperate to make it stop.”
“Megalomedia denies that in-person production of any sort was performed with any show participant over the weekend. We will continue to comply with all safety regulations during this time,” the production company said in a statement. Call sheets specify that only one audio crewmember was allowed inside each castmember’s house, to drop off, set up and pick up equipment, while another crewmember was not allowed inside.
My 600-Lb. Life, now in its eighth season, follows several severely obese individuals over the course of a year as they seek out gastric bypass surgery. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared that severely obese individuals with a Body Mass Index equivalent to 40 or higher, in addition to people who have underlying conditions including diabetes, liver disease or renal failure, are at risk for a severe version of COVID-19, which has so far killed over 2,500 in the U.S.
On Friday, THR reported that TLC said it was halting production on the show following reporting that showed the medical drama was in production from March 20-26. Sources with direct knowledge of the show expressed concern about the safety of castmembers and crew, who are necessarily in close quarters during on-location production.
“The safety of our show talent, crews and employees is our top priority. Production on My 600-Lb. Life has stopped and will not resume until the crisis is resolved. It is our sincere wish that our talent, crews and their families are being safe and staying healthy during this unprecedented time,” TLC stated at the time.
Megalomedia, for its part, said at the time, “My 600-Lb. Life is not filming with a single participant at this time.”
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