TV’s New York-based late-night shows almost uniformly announced on Wednesday that they were suspending tapings with live studio audiences until further notice due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus or COVID-19. Shows that are suspending studio audiences include NBC’s The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers, CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.
“Beginning Monday, March 16, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert will film without a live, in-studio audience. This move is being made out of an abundance of caution regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the uncertainty of the situation for future weeks. Per guidance from New York City officials, CBS and The Late Show are doing their part to help decrease the potential rate of transmission in our communities. There have not been any specific developments at The Ed Sullivan Theater to cause concern for audiences with plans to attend the show tonight, tomorrow, or who have attended in recent weeks. For several weeks, the team at the theater has been taking all necessary precautions to protect everyone who enters and works in the theater with enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures.
“For the past several weeks, The Late Show producers have consulted daily to share information with other New York-based late night shows, who will also be moving forward without an audience.”
“The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority,” NBC said in a statement. “As a precautionary measure, starting Monday, March 16, we have decided to suspend live audiences for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers. Per guidance from New York City officials, the company is hoping to do its part to help to decrease the rate of transmission in our communities. Our shows will continue filming on their regular schedule, and currently, there will be no impact on air dates.”
TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which only tapes once per week, took the opportunity to infuse a little bit of humor into the situation: Bee says she will instead “do the show in front of a mirror, which I actually prefer. Despite the efforts being taken, we still have heard from Sean Spicer that tonight’s taping ‘was the largest audience ever to witness an [taping of Full Frontal], period, both in person and around the globe.’ Wow!”
These shows join other daytime shows—including Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Dr. Phil, Wendy Williams, Live with Kelly and Ryan, Tamron Hall, The View, Good Morning America, and Strahan, Sara and Keke—that also all have suspended taping in front of audiences.
All of those shows will go on, just without audiences in an attempt to reduce the numbers of people gathering together as the country tries to tamp down the spread of coronavirus. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic with more than 120,000 cases around the world. In the U.S., more than 1,000 cases have been reported.
Cancellations of events continued apace on Wednesday, with the NAB finally postponing its annual 100,000 person gathering in Las Vegas after many major participants, including Adobe and Avid, dropped out. Video game conference E3, which doesn’t take place until June in Los Angeles, also was officially cancelled on Wednesday, following cancellations of other major events such as SXSW in Austin.
The NCAA on Wednesday said it would hold its annual basketball tournament, referred to as March Madness, but without fans in the stands.