After late-night and daytime talk shows one by one returned to television with remotely produced episodes amid the coronavirus outbreak, we have the first primetime scripted series to embark on virtual production to make a fresh episode reflecting the current realities while complying with the rules of social distancing.
CBS drama “All Rise,” from Warner Bros. TV and CBS TV Studios, is returning to production for a virtually-produced timely episode influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing and its impact on the criminal justice system. There will also be references to the show characters’ personal lives and how they are affected by the health crisis.
Inspired by current events, the new episode, which is currently being written, will be filmed extensively using FaceTime, WebEx, Zoom and other available social media and online technology. It has been a quick turnaround after the “All Rise” producers came up with the idea and pitched to studio and network.
Judge Lola Carmichael (Simone Missick) will virtually preside over a bench trial in the new episode, which will air Monday, May 4, at 9 p.m. on CBS. It will be tacked onto “All Rise”‘s freshman run, which was cut short when production was suspended three weeks ago amid a mass film and TV filming shutdown. It will be the last original episode to air this season. CBS is yet to make a renewal decision on its freshman series beyond “Evil” but “All Rise”‘s odds have been promising.
The show’s consulting producer, former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, is providing insight into how the justice system continues in Los Angeles, even during the pandemic. Throughout the episode, the series’ characters will be shown managing their “new normal” of everyday reality at home, in order to continue their professional and personal lives, parallel to what the nation is currently confronting.
“It’s a unique chance for our ‘All Rise’ family to band together – in our different homes, even cities – to tell a story about resilience, justice and the power of community,” says executive producer Greg Spottiswood.
Virtual footage will be shot in each of the series regular’s homes, and producers plan to use VFX to create the necessary backgrounds. In addition, a cinematographer operating solo from a vehicle will capture exterior footage that reflects the desolate environment that currently exists on the streets and in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles. The entire episode will be shot abiding by social distancing rules and technologies taking place in the world as it exists now. Executive producer Michael Robin will direct.
In the episode, after debating the merits of continuing their work during this time, Judge Benner (Marg Helgenberger) authorizes Lola to preside over a virtual trial that involves a dispute between brothers and a stolen car. Emily (Jessica Camacho) represents the defendant, a graffiti artist, and Mark (Wilson Bethel) prosecutes for the D.A.’s office, marking the first time he tries a case in Lola’s “court.” Also, Mark and Quinn (Lindsey Gort) continue to explore their romantic (and sexual) relationship while quarantined in separate homes; Judge Benner oversees court from afar and struggles to learn how to cook, and Sara (Lindsay Mendez) has to balance her day job with a new side hustle as a food delivery driver. Luke (J. Alex Brinson) and Emily’s relationship is taxed by separation, and germaphobe and type-A Sherri (Ruthie Ann Miles) contends with the new world (dis)order.
“All Rise” is a courthouse drama that follows the chaotic, hopeful and sometimes absurd lives of its judges, prosecutors and public defenders, as they work with bailiffs, clerks and cops to get justice for the people of Los Angeles amidst a flawed legal process. Among them is newly appointed Judge Lola Carmichael, a highly regarded and impressive former deputy district attorney who doesn’t intend to sit back on the bench in her new role, but instead leans in, immediately pushing the boundaries and challenging the expectations of what a judge can be.
The show is produced by Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios, and executive produced by Greg Spottiswood, Michael M. Robin, Len Goldstein, and Dee Harris-Lawrence. The next original episode airs April 13.