Southern California wildfires halt comedy productions

Comedies Drunk History and Instant Family have both been impacted by the recent Southern California wildfires. The fires temporarily shut down production on the Comedy Central series.

Five films have canceled red carpet events over the past month, including the Coen brothers’ Netflix anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Paramount also opted to cancel the red carpet premiere and the after-party for the Mark Wahlberg-Rose Byrne comedy Instant Family. The screening still took place as planned in front of an audience that included foster kids (the film revolves around a couple who adopts three children from foster care).

Paramount additionally announced that there will be another Instant Family screening for victims displaced by the fires. The food that was ordered for the after-party was donated to the American Red Cross. Wahlberg, Byrne and the rest of the cast and crew even spent the day scheduled for the premiere handing out food to evacuated families. Co-star Octavia Spencer lauded the move in an emotional Instagram post.


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In dark times I am the type of person who compartmentalizes so that I can power thrrough the task at hand. After said task is completed I allow my self to feel whatever emotion necessary. Right now I’m in the midst of one of these moments with all that’s going on in California with the wildfires and gun violence and I just happen to be filming. While I am grateful to be working, I’m trying to keep despair at bay by looking for light in this uncertainty or somehow trying to create some. Well, today that light emanates from Paramount Studios. @instantfamily premiere is tonight and instead of a normal red carpet celebration and party, the studio has opted to cancel the party and red carpet to feed hundreds of displaced families and firefighters. They will also get to screen the movie. My heart is swelling with pride because this small gesture will bring a little light to an uncertain situation for those families and firefighters. We will have a regular “premiere” screening for all of the cast and crew and many adoptive families tonight. I can’t think of a better way to honor #SeanAnders’ beautiful family film. Thanks #PierceCollege #AmericanRedCross #ParamountStudios #lookToTheLight #bethelight #lightupthedarkness #InstantFamilyMovie #americanredcross

A post shared by Octavia Spencer (@octaviaspencer) on

Drunk History, meanwhile, had been filming its sixth season in King Gillette Ranch, a park in the Santa Monica Mountains. However, cast and crew were forced to evacuate the area on November 9. Series creator Derek Waters confirmed the news on Instagram with a photo of himself wearing an oxygen mask.

Filming resumed in downtown Los Angeles as scheduled the following Monday. Reports say the cast and crew hopes to return to King Gillette Ranch later this month to finish shooting.

This was not the only production affected by the wildfires. Zach Galifianakis’ upcoming Netflix project, which is currently being shot in Chatsworth, had to shut down due to evacuation orders. In fact, according to The Hollywood Reporter, roughly 20 productions registered in Malibu have had to stop filming, and Ventura County has stopped accepting filming permits for the affected areas altogether. The Los Angeles Times also reports that 30 California Film Commission filming permits had to be canceled as a result of what has become the biggest wildfire in California history.

Other series, including the upcoming Netflix dark comedy Dead To Me, were scouting locations in nearby Malibu and Hidden Valley when the fires broke out. Debbie Page, a location manager for the series, told the Los Angeles Times that she checked out five locations in the area in one day, but by the time she got back to the studio, they were all under mandatory evacuation. While the show will still be able to film in Hidden Valley, the director’s preferred location in Malibu is likely a “pipe dream,” according to Page.

Clearly, Hollywood is not immune from the effects of the devastating wildfires, which have already claimed the lives of more than 80 people. Over 1,000 are still missing. Many others have lost their homes in the blaze, including stand-up comedian Daniel Tosh.

Melissa Siegel

Melissa Siegel is a writer and journalist based in a suburb of New York City.

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