Production on TLC’s “My 600-Lb. Life” came to a halt this week after continuing to film subjects despite social distancing recommendations due to the current coronavirus pandemic.
The unscripted series, which follows the lives of obese individuals whom the CDC has officially categorized as being at a greater risk of infection due to pre-existing health problems, is produced by Austin, Texas-based studio Megalomedia.
The series had continued to shoot through the week of March 20 to 26 in Texas, Florida, and Mississippi, according to documents obtained by the Hollywood Reporter. Stay-at-home orders are not uniform across the states — Texas and Florida currently have issued them in some counties, but not all, and Mississippi has not yet issued a shelter-in-place order. However, U.S. government has recommended social distancing to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
In a statement to TheWrap, a rep for TLC said, “The safety of our show talent, crews and employees is our top priority. Production on My 600-lb. Life has stopped and will not resume until the crisis is resolved. It is our sincere wish that our talent, crews and their families are being safe and staying healthy during this unprecedented time.”
Megalomedia, the Austin, Texas based production company which shoots the series, gave the following statement:
“The health and safety of Megalomedia’s show participants and employees is always our top priority, now more than ever. We continue to comply with all local, state, and federal guidelines that cover this unprecedented pandemic. ‘My 600-lb Life’ is not filming with a single participant at this time, much less participants in five states. Our local employees are not operating under the news media exemption in Austin’s Stay Home – Work Safe Order. Instead, the overwhelming majority of our staff are working remotely, and the minimal basic staff remaining in the office are there in full compliance with the order. The show’s focus remains on documenting our participants’ weight loss journeys, and we will resume our normal way of doing so when it can be done safely.”
THR spoke to sources close to the situation, who said the cast members were “not feeling comfortable” with continuing to be exposed to groups of people during production.
“These cast members have a compromised immune system already. They’re not okay. They’re not feeling comfortable,” a source told THR. “It’s super dangerous and none of us wants to be the person who gives it to the cast member.”
A member of the production crew also told THR that they felt they had to continue taking the job out of fear of being out of work.
One cast member told THR that they declined to travel to Houston for the show due to coronavirus fears. A Megalomedia hotsheet obtained by THR shows that cast member was told not the mention the virus during filming.
“My 600-Lb. Life” premiered in 2012 and is currently in its eighth season.