More and more shows have announced that they will be filming without live audiences due to fears of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. On Monday, Variety reported that the popular game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! will be taping their episodes without a live audience indefinitely.
Shortly after that was announced, producers for Dr. Phil and The Wendy Williams Show both took the same decision. Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek is continuing with his hosting role during his ongoing battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
The Spread of Coronavirus Is a Risk to ‘Jeopardy!’ Audiences and Host Alex Trebek
Variety first reported that both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune will not be taping in front of an audience. Variety’s source told them that this decision took into consideration many factors: Alex Trebek’s health and lowered immune system due to his health condition, the number of out-of-town guests that travel in for the shows and the fact that these guests tend to be older people.
The CDC has said that people with underlying health conditions or older people are at greater risk of contracting coronavirus and experiencing more serious symptoms.
Both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune are Sony Pictures Television shows, and producers have said they will continue taping episodes for the foreseeable future. They have not said when their position on live audiences will change.
Other Shows Soon Joined ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Wheel of Fortune’ in Eliminating Live Audiences
On Tuesday, March 10, The Wendy Williams Show said they would continue taping episodes but would also be doing so without an audience. A spokesperson for the show told ET: “Wendy values her co-hosts and their daily participation but in light of the current health climate, The Wendy Williams Show will not have a live studio audience until further notice. We will continue to produce a daily live talk show and look forward to welcoming the studio audience back when the time is right.”
Dr. Phil is another show that announced Tuesday that they would be dropping the live audience moving forward. The CBS show told Deadline that “The health of our audience members, staff and crew are the priority,” and this would continue indefinitely. Dr. Phil is the most watched daytime talk show and they get about 300 audience members to each taping.
The coronavirus outbreak has affected countless events, including music concerts, festivals, the Democratic Presidential debate and production of movies and TV shows. The Amazing Race, a show that involves contestants flying around the world completing challenges, has halted production of their latest season. Mission Impossible: 7 has also shut down its production and the newest James Bond film has pushed back its release from April to November.