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A Bravo Executive Explains How the Pandemic is Affecting Production

Here's how your favorite shows are produced when "the show literally must go on" during an unprecedented time. 

Imani Walker Mtmla Production Problems Coronavirus

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From virtual reunions to guests calling into Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen remotely, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has certainly changed the way things work at Bravo. During the July 18 episode of The Daily Dish podcast, Salena Rochester, the Director of Current Production and Development for Bravo and E!, explained how some of your favorite shows have switched things up to continue to deliver juicy content throughout such an unprecedented time. 

“We don’t know what’s gonna happen longterm, and how it’s going to affect the shows that come on air,” said Rochester. “Everything shut down when the country went into quarantine, but what I loved is how we all really moved quickly. The show literally must go on, and we just had to figure it out.” 

Using Married to Medicine Los Angeles as an example, Rochester explained how producers were able to pivot to a new process to get the footage needed to finish up the season. Although production was finished before the lockdown, there were still some hot topics that needed to be addressed in confessional interviews with the cast members. 

“Some of those confessionals are shot after the season, and that’s because you have to ask questions about the finale event, or what have you. You have to figure out, how do you shoot with everyone quarantined? Producers can’t come to your house. The women can’t leave. You can’t have glam. It’s just crazy,” she explained. 

Rochester noted that although each show “came up with their own way of attacking it,” Married to Medicine Los Angeles had a particularly effective plan. A production kit, which included an iPhone for shooting video, a lighting kit, and sound equipment, was sent to the women’s homes. Then, they called the production company, and were walked through setup. 

“We were all just like, ‘How is this going to go?’’ But in the end, they were really good. They were able to set up the lighting, set up the sound, I think we had iPhones on tripods,” said Rochester. “Typically, there’s an actual producer in the room asking questions, and so this was a little difficult because there was no producer in the room.” 

Rochester also explained that the women FaceTimed with producers to conduct the actual interviews. “Some of the time, we’re asking questions that can be quite emotional,” she said.

“There was a margin of error. Luckily, everyone in the industry was going through this, so we knew that if we weren’t perfect, it would be okay,” said Rochester. “But we wanted to be as close to perfect as possible. Most producers are type-A personalities. Especially creatives are like, ‘No, it has to look beautiful,’”

Rochester noted that because the pandemic is still ongoing, producers will continue to look for workarounds. 

“Moving forward, we’re still very much in the midst of COVID. Luckily there are states that are starting to allow production again,” she said. “Hopefully, we can get started shooting some of our shows. It’s been an interesting, interesting time. But what I’ve loved is how viewers are just fine with it. They’re going with the flow of it all. It’s like, we’re all in it.” 

For the latest, most accurate information on coronavirus, go to the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

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