Tyler Perry Studios targeting July start date to produce BET’s ‘The Oval’ and ‘Sistas’

Tyler Perry Studios will likely be the first major studio to start full-blown scripted production of a TV series during this pandemic, with a targeted start date of July.

The second seasons of BET relationship drama “Sistas” is set to begin July 8 followed by Perry’s White House drama “The Oval” July 28 if all goes as planned, according to Deadline

He recently held Zoom meetings with the cast to make sure everyone was comfortable with his plans, and they all agreed to it, paving the way to Perry setting start dates. 

Perry outlined those detailed plans to Deadline last month. 

He has some unique circumstances which will make it easier for him to start up versus most other major studios, who are aiming to realistically begin again later in the summer. 

Perry is already one of the most efficient producers of television and film in the world. He writes, directs and executive produces everything himself. He said he will scale back crew size and expects to have 200 people on his campus for each production.

“It takes me two-and-a-half weeks to shoot a season of 22 episodes, and all of my shows are shot on the lot — we never leave the lot for anything anyway. So everything is already there,” he told Deadline.com. 

He noted how Tyler Perry Studios, which he purchased from the city for $30 million in 2015 and has since invested more than $250 million into the operation, is “the ideal place for this horrific situation we are in.” 

The former Army base already has housing for a good portion of the anticipated cast and crew without ever having to leave the grounds over the the 17 to 18 days or production. Many of the homes were already there, and he built many himself, all with full plumbing and HVAC. 

“These houses are pristine; they are beautiful, and some of the actors and some of the crew already rent them when they are coming in from out of town to stay there,” Perry said.

He said he’ll also bring in portable hotels to house additional crew. 

Perry is also flying cast members from out of town into Atlanta via private jet. 

He has put a lot of thought into testing everyone. Since the virus takes an estimated four days to become contagious, he will retest everyone again four days into production. Anyone on crew who is positive is out, but if a key actor gets the virus, he will have to figure out ways to work around him or her or be forced to shoot scenes later on. 

During production, everyone will wear masks except when actors are on camera. And Perry himself will stay on campus the entire time himself.  

All food will be brought in, sanitized and prepared on site. 

And Perry wrote all scenes of both shows with the pandemic in mind, making sure he had none with big crowds and no more than 10 extras needed. 

For crew members who work with Perry regularly, he will ensure that they get at least a week home a month with their families while this is going on and will have them retested again when another round of production begins. 

He will also compensate crew as if they are in a remote location. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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