- 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)
Lil Nas X Starts Bail Project Fund After Releasing Prison-Set Video for “Industry Baby”
The singer said he is working to address “the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on the black community.“
Lil Nas X Starts Bail X Fund
Following the release of his latest single “Industry Baby,” Lil Nas X launched a partnership with The Bail Project that aims to cover bail funds for people across the country.
The music video for the song took place in the fictional “Montero State Prison,” a reference to the title of his upcoming album and the singer’s real name. While Lil Nas X spent much of his time online promoting the video with memes, he put a pause on the jokes Saturday to announce the Bail X Fund and bring attention to issues regarding incarceration in the United States.
“On a serious note, I know the pain that incarceration brings to a family,” Lil Nas X tweeted. “And the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on the black community. That’s why I teamed up with @bailproject to create the Bail X Fund.”
The Bail Project aims to eliminate cash bail in the U.S. It has posted over $47 million in free bail for over 17,000 low-income people across the country. It also provides post-release support and services to those who need them.
“Music is the way I fight for liberation. It’s my act of resistance,” Lil Nas X wrote in a statement on the fund’s website. “But I also know that true freedom requires real change in how the criminal justice system works. Starting with cash bail.”
The Fight to End Cash Bail
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, like many issues within the criminal justice system, cash bail disproportionately harms Black Americans. The group claims that Black and brown defendants are somewhere between 10% to 25% “more likely than white defendants to be detained pretrial or to have to pay money bail.” It also argues that Black men are 50% more likely to be detained pretrial than white defendants, and says Black and brown defendants generally “receive bail amounts that are twice as high as bail set for white defendants – and they are less likely to be able to afford it.”
Lil Nas X said he is “doing something” to address these issues and invited his fans to join him. He hopes that his efforts will encourage other artists to use their platforms to likewise speak about these injustices.
“Ending cash bail is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time,” he wrote. “Donate what you can to the Bail X Fund. Let’s bring people home & let’s fight for freedom and equality.”
A donation tab was attached to the song’s music video, where it says nearly $44,000 has been raised for the Bail X Fund. The video has blown up on YouTube, racking up over 31 million views. It remains the number one trending video in music as of Monday morning.
The song has likewise found success on Spotify, where it debuted at number two and eventually reached the number one spot.
Fire at Home Reportedly Owned by Beyoncé and Jay-Z Under Arson Investigation
Officials said there were no injuries or evacuations during the fire, which was put out in around two hours.
Fire Breaks Out at Famed Couple’s Reported Residence
A Wednesday fire at a historic home in New Orleans, Louisiana believed to be owned by music titans Beyoncé and Jay-Z is being investigated as a possible arson.
On Thursday, a New Orleans Police Department spokesperson confirmed to multiple outlets that it had received a tip about a suspicious person in the area. Further details about the suspicious person and the cause of the fire have not been revealed.
Neighbors told local media that there is an unlocked gate on the property that outsiders sometimes use to gain entry.
Officials told The New York Post that it took 22 firefighters over two hours to extinguish the blaze, with no reported injuries or evacuations. The extent of the damage currently remains unclear, but a spokesperson told The Post that given the age of the residence, the situation could have been far more severe.
“If [the firefighters] didn’t get there when they did, it could have been much worse,” the spokesperson said. “It’s a historic home.”
About the Home
The building was first built in the Garden District neighborhood of the city in the 1920s as a church. It was later used as a ballet school and then became a high-end residence in 2000. Realtor.com says it is currently valued at $3 million.
The home was purchased in 2015 by Sugarcane Parkin LLC. According to The Washington Post, this company has the same registered address as other entities owned by Beyoncé. Sugarcane Parkin is also allegedly managed by Beyoncé’s mother, Celestine Lawson, better known as Tina Knowles.
Representatives for the “Lemonade” singer and her husband have not issued any public statements about the incident, nor have they confirmed that the home is owned by the couple.
In March of this year, storage units in Los Angeles belonging to Beyonce were burglarized. According to TMZ, over a million dollars of goods were stolen, including expensive dresses and handbags.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Post) (NOLA)
Cleveland’s Baseball Team Changes Name From Indians to Guardians
The move marks the team’s first name change since 1915, and it comes after decades of criticism from Native Americans.
Name Change Announced
Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team said Friday that it will change its name after the 2021 season from the Indians to the Guardians.
The team announced the name change with a just over two-minute video narrated by actor Tom Hanks.
“You see, there’s always been a Cleveland — that’s the best part of our name,” Hanks says in the clip. “And now it’s time to unite as one family, one community, to build the next era for this team and this city.”
This marks the team’s first name change since 1915, and it comes after decades of criticism from Native Americans.
Despite long-running calls to change racist and offensive team names — including the Washington Redskins — such campaigns did not gain significant momentum until the nationwide racial reckoning that followed the murder of George Floyd.
Officials behind the Cleveland team first pledged to change the name last year and previously removed the “Chief Wahoo” logo, a caricature of a Native American character, from its uniforms following the 2018 season.
It toyed with several options before ultimately landing on Guardians, which draws from Cleveland’s architectural history.
“We are excited to usher in the next era of the deep history of baseball in Cleveland,” team owner and chairman Paul Dolan said in a news release.
“Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity. Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders.”
“‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge. It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we fight together for all who choose to be part of the Cleveland baseball family. While ‘Indians’ will always be a part of our history, our new name will help unify our fans and city as we are all Cleveland Guardians.”
Guardians will be the fifth name in franchise history, joining Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-14), and Indians (1915-2021).