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Why Most New York Late-Night Shows Are Waiting Until Next Week to Halt Live Studio Audiences

Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, and Trevor Noah’s shows will all continue with studio audiences until Monday

New York City-based late-night talk shows have decided to forgo their live studio audiences due to coronavirus fears, but most are waiting to implement the change until next week.

The reasoning behind the choice is to show respect to the tourists who line up on the crowded and often frigid Manhattan sidewalks, multiple people with knowledge of the decision tell TheWrap.

One insider told TheWrap that out-of-state travelers, who may have trekked a long way just to see the show, are vital to a variety show’s live (to tape, in most cases) atmosphere. That visitor’s energy adds to an enjoyable atmosphere for the host, band and guests — and even TV viewers.

Anyone who has spent time in the Big Apple can tell you that New Yorkers and New York tourists tend to have very different attitudes and levels of excitement over *being there.*

The insider maintained that their late-night series is “continuing with increased sanitization procedures” and will also be questioning audience members about their recent travel history to assess the contamination risk.

A second insider on the New York City late-night scene told TheWrap that the Monday decision had to do with the typical travel plans they see from this kind of coveted audience member. Tourists that fly into JFK (or God forbid, Laguardia) often like to make a week out of New York City, and thus tend to travel on the weekends. Under the Monday plan, those who are already in town won’t miss their show, and those who may have otherwise come in this weekend have a fair chance to reschedule.

Also, let’s be honest here: more time allows for more preparation. If the lead time is used properly, late-night shows could bank pre-taped segments or other time fillers that will play better to an empty studio than traditional variety-show content would.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” and Trevor Noah’s “Daily Show” will all continue as normal until Monday, which will be the first day with all crickets and no cheering crowds — no need for that “applause” sign.

“The Late Show” will tape in front of an audience tonight and tomorrow night. 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.

John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” and Andy Cohen’s “Watch What Happens Live” will both begin filming without a live audience on Sunday. Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal” is the first to scrap the audience — tonight’s episode will tape without fans present.

Showtime’s “Desus & Mero” is on hiatus until March 23. When it returns, it will also forgo a live audience, TheWrap has learned.

“SNL” is not back until March 28. A person with knowledge of conversations at Studio 8H tells TheWrap the show is continuing to monitor the situation closely in partnership with city and health officials, and will make a decision on how best to proceed as they get closer to the start of 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. Both of those shows tape in Los Angeles and their plans are subject to change.

Comedy Central’s “Lights Out With David Spade,” which films in L.A., will continue on as normal for now, a person with knowledge of the situation tells TheWrap.

HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” which also films in L.A., did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s requests for comment.

Update: “The Late Show,” “The Tonight Show” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” ended up going audience-less on Thursday night out of an abundance of caution.