Coronavirus prompts ‘Late Show,’ ‘Tonight Show’ to drop studio audiences

Stephen Colbert (R) and Jimmy Fallon attend the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. George Pimentel/Getty Images

The ripple effect of the new coronavirus has moved beyond the film and music industry and is being felt in North America’s daytime and late-night TV talk show circuit.

On Wednesday, New York City-based late-night shows The Tonight ShowThe Late Show and Late Night with Seth Myers all announced that they will begin taping episodes without an in-studio audience amid concerns surrounding the global pandemic.

NBC said it was suspending live audiences for the Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers-hosted shows starting March 16, with CBS saying the same of Stephen Colbert‘s show due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

In a statement provided to the Associated Press (AP), NBC said the safety of guests and employees was the company’s “top priority.”

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Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Andy Cohen, Wendy Williams and award-winning comedian Ellen DeGeneres will also go without audiences on their respective talk shows.

Along with Colbert, Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, HBO’s Last Week Tonight and Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen are set to follow suit, starting this Sunday.

“For the past several weeks, producers have consulted daily to share information with other New York-based late night shows, who will also be moving forward without an audience,” CBS said in regard to the decision on The Late Show.

The step was taken based on guidance from New York City officials, CBS said, and out of an “abundance of caution regarding” the virus and the uncertainty of the situation.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson test positive for COVID-19'
Coronavirus outbreak: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson test positive for COVID-19

Despite the lack of a studio audience, these popular talk shows will proceed to air as scheduled, with no broadcasts being affected by the new coronavirus. No return dates for studio audiences have been set.

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DeGeneres, 62, announced Wednesday that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would suspend audiences starting next Monday, apologizing to fans for the move.

“I’m so sorry,” the beloved host wrote in a statement on Twitter. “But I’m doing this for the health of my fans, my staff & my crew.”

“It has nothing to do with a warrant for my arrest in the state of Florida,” she joked in conclusion.

The Wendy Williams Show was among the first daytime television shows to implement the protective safety measures, as the show confirmed the change with CNN on Tuesday.

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“[We] will not have a live studio audience until further notice. We will continue to produce a daily live talk show and look forward to welcoming the studio audience back when the time is right,” a representative of the show said in a statement.

ABC’s Live with Kelly and RyanThe View and The Tameron Hall Show has also temporarily banned any audience members from attending, as confirmed to CNN on Wednesday.

Taking a different approach, CBS’s The Talk, which features Sharon Osbourne, will continue to invite its fans to the show for in-studio tapings.

Sharon Osbourne sips lemonade on ‘The Talk.’
Sharon Osbourne sips lemonade on ‘The Talk.’. CBS

Meanwhile, a postponement was announced for PaleyFest LA 2020. The TV festival that was set to begin Friday and run through March 22.

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The event had plans to honour shows including Modern Family and Disney’s first live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, as reported by AP.

— With files from the Associated Press

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