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The Conners: The Cast and Producers Talk Production During Pandemic

THE CONNERS – VirtuFall TCA Panel. (ABC)
JOHN GOODMAN, SARA GILBERT, MICHAEL FISHMAN, LAURIE METCALF, LECY GORANSON, DAVE CAPLAN (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER), BRUCE HELFORD (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER), TOM WERNER (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER)

The show must go on as the saying goes.

During a press virtual event, the cast and producers addressed the production shoots of the comedy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now in its third season, the very first episode has the family addressing its dire situation of job loss, foreclosure, and the pandemic.

In previous seasons, the Conners grappled parenthood, pregnancy, and financial problems. These are the same problems that everyday American families face, but the show manages to generate laughs on these serious matters.

For the presentation, the cast members in attendance included John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Lecy Goranson, Michael Fishman, and Sara Gilbert. Executive producers Tom Werner, Bruce Helford, Bruce Rasmussen, and Dave Caplan joined the conference video call with the media.

“The characters were built for disaster, and we’ve been following their life and their trials through all the things that have been going on since the 1980s. It just seemed natural that we would be in the middle of this and do it,” stated Bruce Helford, who is also the showrunner of the series. “I know there are a lot of shows that probably aren’t going to be reflecting what’s really going on, but we felt that it was an obligation to our viewers to stay relevant and to show them what it’s like for a family that knows how to get through hard times but is thrown a curve like never before.”

Helford addressed the Covid-19 protocols in place for the safety of the cast and production. The crew takes everybody’s health seriously with a certain amount of PPE and testing before coming on to the set.

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As for the first episode’s portrayal, he elaborated, “The way we’re reflecting life is pretty close to the exact thing. The family doesn’t wear masks or social distance amongst themselves, because they’re quarantining together when they’re in the house. Mark, the youngest son, is still taking people’s temperatures before they come in, when they go out, and he’s making sure everybody is washing their hands and doing the proper things.”

They already shot four episodes of The Conners. Helford predicts the pandemic theme will be throughout this season’s show as it relates with current events. Other topics The Conners face includes Halloween during these times and the upcoming Presidential election.

Sara Gilbert, who plays Darlene Conner and serves as executive producer, talked about not filming in front of a live studio audience.

“We’ve talked about it and we feel that the risks aren’t worth the benefits even if we’re testing people,” she said. “We’re just dealing with safety issues. And as an actor, I can feel insecure or feel like it affects my performance, but the producers swear it doesn’t. So, you guys will have to judge.”

Helford added, “Well, the crew and the staff, where there’s about 40 of us on the stage all together at a given time. We laugh, and so that’s the guideline for our editor. We are definitely going to have to bring laughter into it. It will be laughter from our actual audiences on stage.”

As for a live show episode like during the New Hampshire primary and Oscars, Helford said nothing is planned at this time. However, none of the crew and cast aren’t “crazy about doing that.”

The Conners return to primetime on ABC on Wednesday, October 12 at 9 p.m.

Source: LRM Online, ABC

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