Standing Room Only is an audience and casting company with a 35-year history of providing live audiences for television shows. March 13, 2020 was a dark day for the audience industry as every production began to shut down in the time frame of 3 hours. Not only was there an Armageddon style rainstorm in Los Angeles, there was an invisible virus that was insidiously spreading while innocently standing next to each other. At that moment, we would have to reinvent the way people gathered together, but no one could have ever imagined our new world.
It has taken more than six months for Hollywood unions to reach a deal with the studios to restart production safely and to bring audiences back to talk, game, comedy and competition shows in a safe and protected way. “I have always said the audience is the 5th guest on a talk show and with the right audience, the live feedback is irreplaceable,” says Lisa Garr, owner of Standing Room Only. This has never been more evident than the first day Standing Room Only provided a live audience of a socially distanced 25 people for the Real Time with Bill Maher Show on September 11, 2020 at CBS Studios. The first thing Bill did was kneel on one knee and thank Jesus for an audience. For long-standing comedians like Bill Maher, the real-time feedback is essential.
SRO is also providing a socially distanced live audience for Kevin Hart’s LOL comedy show taping in October 2020 and SRO successfully completed a 5-day taping for an MGM comedy show that taped outdoors at the Odyssey Restaurant in Burbank in July of 2020.
Following the “white paper” of health and safety guidelines established by the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force is nothing short of a 20-step process. It is worth it knowing the health and safety of the audience, the crew, the performers and all of the families are involved and the risks need to be mitigated at every turn. It begins with an FDA approved Covid-19 test taken 24 hours prior to a work day with results within 24 hours. Every audience member is paid via payroll and covered under the payroll company’s workers compensation policy as well as full details on each audience member providing contact tracing and identification for everyone entering the studio.