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Tyler Perry on the reopening of his studio at Fort Mac: ‘So far, so good’

Maria Saporta

By Maria Saporta

Going into its second week of filming, Tyler Perry Studios is setting a standard of how to run a movie studio during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tyler Perry during construction of his studios at Fort Mac (Special: Tyler Perry Studios)

Tyler Perry Studios is the first movie studio in the country to reopen after the entire industry came to a sudden stop because of COVID-19.

“So far, so good. Grace!” Perry wrote in a text. “360 people in the bubble. We test every four days. No positive cases.

Everyone working on Perry’s cable-TV series are living the 330 acres that once were part of Fort McPherson. Perry, who writes, produces and directs his TV series, also is living fulltime on the base during filming.

Production on the second season of Sistas began on July 15, and Perry is scheduling to shoot 22 series of the BET show in two-and-a-half weeks.

A publicity shot of the show “Sistas”

When filming of Sistas wraps up, production will begin on the second season of The Oval, the other BET series. Again, it is scheduled to take two-and-a-half weeks to shoot 22 series of The Oval.

Had there been the possibility of a COVID outbreak during filming, Perry said he would have stopped production until after a vaccine was available.

Perry has been working on a plan to reopen TPS over the past two months. As far as he knows, no other movie studio in the Atlanta region has been able to reopen.

“We are the first major production in the country,” Perry wrote in a text Thursday morning. “Yellowstone started a few days after us in Montana.”

Fort McPherson's Staff Row

Fort McPherson’s Staff Row being used to house the crew working on Tyler Perry Studio productions (Special: McPherson Local Redevelopment Authority)

Perry forwarded a link to an article that appeared in Deadline on July 22. “I think it points to a link to my guidelines in the article,” Perry wrote.

Most of the production crew is based locally, but they have been staying in residences that exist on the studio property – including the magnificent houses on “Staff Row,” where former Army officers would live when Fort Mac was in operation. Perry was able to operate the studios as a bubble because of all the facilities an amenities that were part of the historic fort.

For the actors who don’t live in Atlanta, Perry has been flying them here on his private plane from New York and Los Angeles, but only after they have tested negative for the coronavirus before boarding the flight.

Once they have arrived in Atlanta, all cast members are tested again and quarantined in their rooms for four hours to get the results. Dr. Carlos del Rio, a distinguished professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Emory University’s School of Medicine, has been serving as a consultant for TPS.

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Maria Saporta
Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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