Aftermath Of Hurricane Continues To Hammer NY Stage, TV Production

2:39 PM, Oct 30, 2012   |    comments
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NEW YORK, N.Y. (USA Today) - Sandy's aftereffects continue to hinder the return of TV, theatrical and even feature-film production to normalcy.

 New York City was digging out from Superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, and with mass transit still disrupted and lower Manhattan without power, entertainment productions from screen to stage remained shuttered, with few exceptions.

David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon again plan to tape their late-night talk shows, and in contrast to Monday night, Fallon planned to bring in a studio audience after inquiries from stranded tourists. Donald Trump and Bravo's Andy Cohen are his scheduled guests.

Monday's Late Show with David Letterman, featuring Denzel Washington and an empty studio, "was very weird for us," says executive producer Rob Burnett. "Everything about it was the same, but there was no one to react to anything we were doing." Tuesday's show was scheduled to tape early, at 3:30 ET, with guests Ken Burns and The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore (Kate Hudson bowed out), and Burnett says a skeleton crew stayed in area hotels, and he expects to have a studio audience for Wednesday's show.

Jimmy Kimmel, who picked the wrong week for a homecoming to his native Brooklyn, planned to tape his late-night show at 6 p.m. ET with an audience of local residents at the Brooklyn Academy of Music after canceling Monday's show. Howard Stern was the previously scheduled guest.

ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today canceled their on-air Halloween parties, an annual tradition. NBC cited "sensitivity" over the storm.

Almost all daytime talk shows were scuttled for a second day, and prime-time production remained halted as the city revoked outdoor filming permits through Wednesday and studios wrestled with transportation issues. The list of shows affected includes CBS dramas Elementary, Person of Interest, Blue Bloods and The Good Wife; NBC's 30 Rock, Smash and Law & Order: SVU; Showtime's The Big C and Nurse Jackie; and midseason series such as Fox's The Following, ABC's Zero Hour, NBC's Deception and Do No Harm, CBS' Golden Boy and FX drama The Americans, starring Keri Russell.

The expectation is that production will resume as soon as possible, and for many as early as Wednesday. NBC says SVU, based in hard-hit New Jersey, will remain shut down Wednesday, but studios are evaluating options for the others. TV shows often build in cushions for unforseen events, and episodes are produced weeks before their scheduled airdates. In an extended delay, networks would need to substitute repeats on their schedules.

Broadway producers expect to resume performances Wednesday night, though "we're still concerned about whether we can get all actors and employees in for matinees," says Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League.

St. Martin admitted that making the call on whether shows will go on "has been an excruciating decision each day. We know that so many people are in from out of town and may not have a chance to see a certain show again." Less popular shows, in contrast, "don't want to cancel three or four times if they're trying to stay alive."

She concedes that "the economic impact will be greater this week than it normally would," because many shows that are normally dark Sunday and Monday nights had planned performances Oct. 28 and 29 rather than offering Wednesday performances this week, on Halloween.

Major off-Broadway productions such as those of the Signature Theatre Company and the Public Theater, which is located downtown, also remained canceled Tuesday. The Vineyard Theatre, in Union Square, announced Tuesday that it was canceling preview performances of a new play, Douglas McGrath's Checkers, until further notice because of power outages, and that its opening night, originally set for Oct. 31, would be postponed.

Production in Long Island on feature film Noah, starring Russell Crowe, was also suspended, as an ark proved unseaworthy. "I take it that the irony of a massive storm holding up the production of Noah is not lost," said co-star Emma Watson on Twitter.

In terms of Tuesday's programming, CBS and Fox planned their regular schedules, while NBC and ABC slotted news specials at 10 ET/PT.

 By Gary Levin and Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY

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