- Production for “The Batman” was paused last week, just two days after filming restarted in the U.K.
- Warner Bros. explained that a member of production tested positive for COVID-19, and several outlets later named the film’s star, Robert Pattinson, as the infected crew member.
- Pattison and those who came in contact with him are under quarantine and it’s unclear if filming will need to be delayed for more than two weeks at this point.
- Figures in the British film industry have expressed confidence in existing safety protocols, but if the case is not contained, it could serve as a cautionary tale as the industry works to convince talent and crew that filming can be done safely.
- The case also underscores why insurers are refusing to cover costs related to COVID-19 in any new policies.
Crew Member Tests Positive
For months now, the entertainment industry has been intensely focused on how to safely restart productions amid the coronavirus pandemic. By July and August, a handful of projects begin filming with strict quarantine procedures, limits to crew size, PPE requirements, regular testing schedules, and other safety measures.
That appears to have been working well since there have been few reports of positive tests and no production halts due to outbreaks that we know of. With all of that looking good, it seemed like more production houses could be ready to move projects down the pipeline as well.
That was at least until reports surfaced that Robert Pattison had tested positive for Coronavirus in the U.K. just two days after resuming production for “The Batman.”
Warner Bros. didn’t name Pattinson in its announcement last week. Instead, it said: “A member of The Batman production has tested positive for Covid-19, and is isolating in accordance with established protocols. Filming is temporarily paused.”
However, several outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, and Vanity Fair, later cited sources that named Pattinson as the infected individual. That’s huge news since he’s the star of the film, but right now, there aren’t a lot of details about how he’s doing or how he was exposed to the virus.
What This Delay Could Mean for the Industry
Filming previously shut down in March when the coronavirus forced sets to close, but with this positive case, this film will definitely be delayed even longer.
A source familiar with U.K. filming protocols told Variety that anyone with a positive coronavirus test needs to quarantine for a minimum of 10 days. After that, they can be cleared for work if a subsequent test comes back negative and they show no symptoms. Other productions have required at least two negative tests, and no COVID-19 symptoms for at least 72 hours.
Right now, its unknown exactly how long Pattison’s absence will last, especially since we don’t know anything about how he’s doing. On top of that, anyone who came within six feet of him for more than 15 minutes needs to isolate, regardless of whether or not they test positive.
That could mean any number of actors, stunt performers, or any other crew members that support him through the shoot, including the film’s director Matt Reeves, depending on how close he came to Pattison during filming. If any of those people test positive, that means more have to quarantine, which means the situation could get worse for the film pretty quickly.
It’s unclear how strict the film was with its procedures, but there’s a good chance this could be well contained.
Some figures in the British film industry expressing confidence in existing protocols, like Adrian Wootton, chief executive of the British Film Commission and Film London. He told Variety, “We know that productions in the U.K. are rigorously following British Film Commission guidance with robust health and safety procedures in place, including stringent testing regimes, which is why any case of coronavirus can be rapidly identified and appropriate self-isolating procedures implemented.”
However, if the virus is not contained, the movie could serve as a cautionary tale for other sets, and it’s already underscoring major issues that the industry faces as it tries to get productions rolling.
For example, now more than ever, production houses need to convince their talent and crew that filming can be done safely. On top of that, they’re dealing with insurers who don’t want to be held liable for COVID related delays.
Since “The Batman” started filming before the pandemic forced shutdowns, there’s a chance this might not be a big problem for them. Still, according to some reports, more insurers are updating their wording to exclude COVID coverage in new policies because no insurer wants to be responsible for millions of dollars for overrun productions when the likelihood of that happening seems high.
Pattinson’s case could have more far-reaching effects depending on how it plays out because if there turns out to be an outbreak, it pretty much becomes the worst-case scenario for everyone involved.
As far as “The Batman,” there have been some rumors floating around that filming continued after the positive test. Those rumors stem from a DailyMail report, but the claims have since been rejected by a source close to the filmmakers. According to Variety, crew members are still doing construction work on sets and props, but people who were in contact with Pattison are quarantining and contract tracing was underway as of last week. As it stands, it’s pretty unlikely that any shooting will happen for at least the next two weeks.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (Vanity Fair) (The New York Times)
Dave Chappelle Says He’s Willing To Meet With Trans Community Under Certain Conditions
After being criticized for transphobic comments, the comedian said he would give an audience to the transgender community even though he is “confused” about what they would be discussing.
Dave Chappelle Addresses Netflix Employees
Comedian Dave Chappelle responded on Monday to the recent backlash he has faced for making transphobic remarks in his new Netflix stand-up special “The Closer.”
Over the past several weeks, many employees at Netflix have protested against Chappelle’s program and numerous LGBTQ+ rights groups have condemned his comments. Netflix employees staged a walkout last week to call out “The Closer” and advocate for more trans and nonbinary employees to be included at the company.
Some reports have alleged that Chappelle denied the opportunity to speak with the trans community and allies at Netflix. In a new video addressing the controversy, Chappelle refuted that allegation.
“It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix and I refused. That is not true,” he said “If they had invited me, I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we would be speaking about.“
“I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not?” he continued. “You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. It seems like I’m the only one who can’t go to the office.”
Chappelle Says He Will Meet With Trans Community
Chappelle added that he would be willing to meet with the trans community but is not “bending to anybody’s demands.”
“I have some conditions. First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end,” Chappelle explained. “You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing, and thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”
Gadsby is a comedian best known for her Netflix special “Nanette.” While defending Chappelle, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos name-dropped Gadsby and “Nanette” as examples of the service’s offerings that give voice to marginalized communities. Gadsby shot back at the executive, saying she did not want him to “drag [her] name into [his] mess.”
“Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chappelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view,” Gadsby wrote on Instagram. “Fuck you and your amoral algorithm cult.”
During “The Closer,” Chappelle called himself “team TERF” while discussing author J.K. Rowling being “canceled” after making a series of transphobic comments herself. He said he agreed with Rowling and added that “gender is a fact.” He later made a slew of other comments, including a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
As outrage poured in, Sarandos released a series of statements in support of Chappelle and his artistic freedom. During his video, Chappelle thanked Sarandos, claiming that he has lost a series of opportunities amid the controversy. Chappelle recently completed a documentary that he says was going to screen at film festivals, but he is allegedly no longer welcome at those events.
“When this controversy came out about ‘The Closer,’ they began disinviting me from these film festivals, and now, today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film,” Chapelled claimed. “Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet.”
Chappelle later announced that he will be taking his documentary on tour to cities like San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, and Toronto.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (The Hollywood Reporter) (NPR)
Affidavit Outlines Alleged Events That Lead Up to Fatal Shooting on “Rust” Set
Before the tragic incident that resulted in the death of the film’s cinematographer, actor Alec Baldwin was allegedly assured that the gun he was handed on set was not loaded.
Details of Events Leading Up to Shooting
An affidavit alleges that actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene that involved him pointing a gun at the camera when he misfired the weapon last week, killing the production’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and injuring director Joel Souza.
Multiple outlets obtained the affidavit from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday. The document details the alleged events that resulted in Thursday’s tragedy on the set of “Rust.” Souza told investigators that during a firearms safety announcement, he heard the prop weapon referred to as a “cold gun,” a term that means the gun is not loaded.
According to Souza, the guns on set were usually checked by two people: armorer Hannah Guttierrez-Reed and assistant director Dave Halls. Halls was in charge of giving the guns to actors, though sources said both Guttierrez-Reed and Halls did so at various times.
The affidavit said that Halls handed the gun to Baldwin while announcing it as a “cold gun.” Investigators say investigators that Halls got the revolver from a tray set up by Gutierrez-Reed.
Souza said the crew had spent part of the day preparing for a scene in a church and later left to take a lunch break at another location. He said he was unsure if the firearm had been checked again after returning from lunch.
When the accident happened. Souza said he heard what “sounded like a whip and then loud pop.” He first noticed Hutchins grabbing her midsection and stumbling back before realizing he had been hit in the shoulder.
The incident came after six camera crew workers reportedly walked off the set in protest of unfair and unsafe working conditions. According to the affidavit, a replacement crew had quickly been hired, but production on the day of the accident was off to a late start because of related issues. Regarding general on-set behavior, Souza claimed that “everyone was getting along” and that there had been “no altercations” to his knowledge.
The affidavit’s walkout claim backed up previous reporting from The Los Angeles Times. Sources from the set of “Rust” told the outlet on Friday that half a dozen workers left the set because they were frustrated by safety issues, long hours, long commutes, and a long wait for their paychecks.
Safety Issues on Set of “Rust”
According to the report, standard industry safety protocols “were not strictly followed,” and at least one worker complained specifically about gun safety. Some sources told The Times that there had already been at least two accidental discharges of a prop gun. Around a week before the fatal accident, Baldwin’s stunt double allegedly fired two rounds after being told a gun was cold.
“There should have been an investigation into what happened,” one source told the outlet. “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.”
Another source told The Times that “corners were being cut” on set.
The report also claimed that Hutchins was among those advocating for her team to have safer work conditions.
Rust Movie Productions released a statement saying safety “is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company.”
“Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down,” the statement continued.
Baldwin, for his part, sent his condolences to Hutchins’ family on Friday. At the time, he said he was cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
Vigils have been held in New Mexico and Hollywood to honor Hutchins. The American Film Institute also made a memorial scholarship in her name.
See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (The New York Times) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Ruby Rose Details Abusive and Unsafe Work Conditions on Set of “Batwoman” Series
Rose said she and other crew members were seriously injured while filming, but executives insisted that production continue.
Ruby Rose Details Injuries During “Batwoman” Production
Actor Ruby Rose alleged in Instagram Story posts Wednesday that she and other crew members on the set of CW’s “Batwoman” series were seriously injured and subjected to abusive treatment during production.
Rose, who uses she/they pronouns, exited the series in 2020 but did not give explicit details as to why at the time. Now, they are accusing showrunner Caroline Dries, producers Sarah Schechter and Greg Berlanti, and former WBTV executive Peter Roth of fostering a toxic and dangerous work environment.
The original star of “Batwoman” tagged Dries, Schechter, and Berlanti in her Story posts, writing “enough is enough.”
“I’m going to tell the whole world what really happened on that set,” Rose continued. “I will come for you so what happened to me never happens to another person again. And so I can finally take back my life and the truth. Shame on you.”
Rose shared a video of a doctor detailing rib injuries she received on set. She claimed she had enough footage to make an hour-long documentary about these injuries, which allegedly also included a “broken neck,” a “rib split in two” and a “tumor.” In a later post, Rose wrote that in another instance she “got cut in the face so close to my eye in a stunt I could have been blind.”
Rose also shared footage of a surgery they underwent, claiming they had to return to set just 10 days after the operation otherwise “the whole crew and cast would be fired.”
Rose Claims Executives Fostered Dangerous Workplace
“Please to my dear, dear fans stop asking if I will return to that awful show,” Rose continued. “I wouldn’t return for any amount of money nor if a gun were to my head…NOR DID I QUIT. They ruined Kate Kane and they destroyed batwoman, not me.”
Rose added that they were not the only one who sustained traumatic injuries during filming. Rose claimed that the series “lost two stunt doubles” and that one crew member received severe third-degree burns all over his body while the cast and crew watched.
“We were given no therapy after witnessing his skin fall off his face,” Rose wrote.
Rose even wrote that a woman “was left quadriplegic” during an accident but executives tried “to blame it on her being on her phone.”
“She’s a PA, they work via phones,” Rose continued. “Her accident occurred because our show refused to shut down when everyone else did because of Covid.”
Rose’s allegations regarding mishandling the COVID-19 pandemic continued from there. She wrote that Dries only visited the show’s set four times a year, but still insisted that production continue as COVID posed a threat. Rose said “Batwoman” continued running while other sets, including those of CW productions, were shutting down.
“[Dries] has no heart and wanted us to finish the season throughout the pandemic and I told her it was a bad idea,” Rose wrote. “I told her everyone was too distracted, constantly checking Covid updates checking on friends.”
Rose claims that when production did finally halt, it was not because a production assistant had been severely injured but because “the government pulled it.”
Separately, Rose accused Roth of having young women steam the crotch area of his pants while he was wearing them. She also alleged that Roth sent a private investigator after her and that Dries encouraged her to comply with him.
Rose admitted that they “fought people” on set, but claimed they only did so to advocate for safety. Rose said they never raised their voice, unlike fellow actor Dougray Scott, who they accused of going on abusive tirades.
“Dougray hurt a female stunt double,” Rose claimed. “He yelled like a little bitch at women and was a nightmare. He left when he wanted and arrived when he wanted he abused women and in turn as a lead of a show I sent an email out asking for a no yelling policy, they declined.”
WBTV responded to the allegations Wednesday. The network gave a statement to Deadline accusing Rose of sharing a “revisionist history” that implicates “producers, the cast and crew, the network, and the Studio.”
“The truth is that Warner Bros. Television had decided not to exercise its option to engage Ruby for season two of Batwoman based on multiple complaints about workplace behavior that were extensively reviewed and handled privately out of respect for all concerned,” the statement continued.