Hollywood projects are getting stricter – The Hollywood Reporter – Community News
Covid-19

Hollywood projects are getting stricter – The Hollywood Reporter

As studios debate how to deal with the resistance to COVID-19 vaccines, the Biden administration is moving forward with its own mandates prompting Hollywood to follow the lead. Although a federal court recently suspended vaccine and testing requirements for private companies with 100 or more employees pending review, the White House said on Nov. 8 that the private sector “must not wait.”

While that case is expected to go to the Supreme Court, a flood of actors and actresses has quietly pushed back studio mandates, which increasingly require those in Zone A on a production — where cast and crew work close together — to be vaccinated. (Source sources in the studio say some religious exemptions are granted, although these are rare.)

“We really only consider those who have been vaccinated,” says a prolific producer The Hollywood Reportr about COVID requirements for positions they are working on. Another producer, who is gearing up for a major studio production, agrees: “We will not work with someone who has not been vaccinated.” But enforcement will be key as studios make sure employees, from talent to crew, show evidence.

“Nobody wants an Aaron Rodgers situation,” says the studio producer of the NFL star who ignored COVID-19 guidelines before testing positive for the virus. (Rodgers’ fiancé, Shailene Woodley, has not made her vaccination status public. She is in production on Showtime’s three women. A Showtime representative says the series has a Zone A vaccine mandate, indicating that Woodley has been vaccinated.)

In turn, news has leaked about stars leaving projects they should have been at the top of. Ice Cube, for example, departed from Sony’s comedy oh hell no after turning down a request from producers to get vaccinated, missing a $9 million payday. Veteran General Hospital star Ingo Rademacher was fired after failing to adhere to a vaccine mandate.

Logistical challenges await studios working with stars who didn’t get the chance. Disney’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star Letitia Wright — who plays Shuri, sister of Black Panther T’Challa (the late Chadwick Boseman) — has not been vaccinated, sources say. After sustaining an injury in August, the Guyanese-born British actress went home to London.

Now, a return to the US for a possible recording in Atlanta, where Wakanda forever based can be a problem. On Nov. 8, the CDC introduced rules requiring all non-immigrant, non-civil air travelers to the U.S. to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination status before boarding a plane. Wright is not an American citizen. Disney declined to comment.

Wright’s UK representative pointed to a statement issued on Nov. 5 to THR regarding the actress’ injury, forcing production to be halted the week of Thanksgiving (director Ryan Coogler is said to have filmed everything he can without her). The rep noted: “Letitia has been recovering from injuries sustained on the set of London since September” Black Panther 2 and looks forward to returning to work in early 2022. Letitia kindly requests that you remember her in your prayers.”

This story first appeared in the November 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.