All NYC Late-Night Shows to Tape Without Live Studio Audiences Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Samantha Bee, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and their peers won’t need that “Applause” sign

Last Updated: March 13, 2020 @ 12:45 PM

New York City’s late-night TV shows are going without live studio audiences as coronavirus continues to spread. That means “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” Trevor Noah’s “Daily Show,” “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen” and “Desus & Mero” will forgo their in-house crowds for the time being.

While Bee’s show is cutting its audience beginning with tonight’s taping and Oliver’s with this Sunday’s, most of the other programs listed above will put that policy into effect next Monday. The exceptions here are Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” and Showtime’s “Desus & Mero,” with Cohen set to lose his live audience beginning March 15 and Desus Nice and The Kid Mero’s show, which is on hiatus next week, dropping its in-studio viewers March 23.

“The Late Show” will tape in front of an audience tonight and tomorrow night and a repeat was previously scheduled for Friday, an individual with knowledge tells TheWrap. Fallon and Meyers’ programs will also tape in front of live audiences tonight and Thursday, and do not record shows on Fridays.

An individual with knowledge of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which doesn’t return with a new episode until March 28, told TheWrap that producers are monitoring the situation closely in partnership with NYC and health officials and that a decision will be made about how to proceed as “SNL” gets closer to going back into production.

On the West Coast, “Conan” is currently in reruns and on a scheduled hiatus for the next two weeks.

A person with knowledge of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” told TheWrap that for now the tapings will continue as always, with a studio audience. A separate person with information on the plans for CBS’ “Late Late Show With James Corden” told TheWrap that one will also remain status quo. It’s also business as usual for Comedy Central’s “Lights Out With David Spade,” an insider tells TheWrap. All three of those shows tape in Los Angeles and their plans are subject to change.

Representatives for HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” also an L.A-based late-night series, did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s requests for comment.

“Due to growing fears over COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, ‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’ will tape tonight’s episode without a live studio audience,” a spokesperson for the show told TheWrap Wednesday. “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!”

An NBC spokesperson said in their own statement: “The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority. 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.”

In another statement, a CBS representative said: “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.”

“Our top priority is the safety of our guests and staff. Beginning Monday, March 16th, Comedy Central’s NY based late night series, ‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,’ will film without a live, in-studio audience,” a Comedy Central spokesperson said. “This move is being made out of an abundance of caution and concern regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus and per guidance from New York City officials to take appropriate actions. There have been no developments at ‘The Daily Show’s’ studio to cause concern for audience members who have plans to attend the show tonight or tomorrow. Measures have been taken to protect everyone who enters and works in the office and studio with enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures. For the past several weeks, ‘The Daily Show’ producers have communicated daily with other New York-based late night shows, who will also be moving forward without an audience beginning Monday.”

HBO added: “As of this coming Sunday, March 15, ‘Last Week Tonight With John Oliver’ will film without a live, in-studio audience. We are taking this precaution in accordance with best practices as outlined by New York City officials. We will continue to monitor the situation.”

“The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority,” Bravo said in a statement. “As a precautionary measure, starting Sunday, March 15 we have decided to suspend live audiences for ‘Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.’ 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.”

These NYC-based late-night shows are far from the first programs with a live audience to cut that component from their program amid increasing concerns about COVID-19, which the CDC declared a pandemic on Wednesday.

Earlier today, Walt Disney Television announced it was suspending live audiences from attending all of its NYC-based news broadcasts and talk shows, including “The View,” “Live With Kelly and Ryan,” “Good Morning America,” “Strahan, Sara and Keke” and “Tamron Hall.”

Other programs that have cut their live audiences include “The Wendy Williams Show,” “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.”

A number of public events have been called off in recent days as the coronavirus cases in the U.S. continue to rise, with some health experts advising against public gatherings where the disease may be spread from person to person.

One of the first and biggest events to be affected by the coronavirus threat was the now-canceled South by Southwest festival in Austin, which was originally scheduled to take place March 13-22. Since SXSW was scrapped, other canceled/postponed events include political rallies, some TV networks’ upfront presentations, the Los Angeles Times’ annual Festival of Books, World of Wonder’s RuPaul’s DragCon, PaleyFest, and the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals.

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