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Nick Bakay records 'classic Sabre games' as lockdown stops work on CBS' 'Mom'

Alan Pergament

Writer-producer Nick Bakay has some time on his hands.

Bakay, who grew up in Buffalo and is a big Bills and Sabres fan, had his popular CBS sitcom “Mom” shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic March 14 by Warner Brothers, which produces it.

He is handling it the way many Western New Yorkers across the country are handling it.

“I just set my DVR to record the classic Sabre games on MSG, so I guess playoff hockey is relevant again in a strange, lockdown parallel universe,” he wrote in an email.

Bakay was responding to a series of emailed questions about how the shutdown is going to affect his series as the regular TV season winds down.

He added the shutdown came right before the final two shows of the 22-episode season were set and ready to be shot.

“After the sudden change in California’s policies, I went to the lot and edited our final two produced episodes, then grabbed some stuff out of my office,” he wrote. “The lot was a ghost town. We are awaiting word on when/where/how/if we will be able to complete the final post production on them (color correct, implement green screen plates, sound mix, etc.).

“Every day is its own adventure and looking ahead to when we will resume writing and subsequently shooting our next season (8!) is unclear at this time. Traditionally, our writers get back at it in early June, production starts in early August.”

Bakay, who also is a consulting producer on the popular Chuck Lorre series “The Kominsky Method” on Netflix, added the terrific Michael Douglas-Alan Arkin series has had a third season ordered.

“Also TBD in terms of how and when,” wrote Bakay.

He is taking the situation, caused by the coronavirus outbreak, seriously but also with a good sense of humor.

“Writers are impacted like every other industry really – every day we awake to new information, and no one has any idea about the length of our seclusion. I anticipate a large boom in screenplays, pilots, babies and ill-advised podcasts over the course of the year.

“It takes a small city to produce a TV show, and while we are not ‘essential,’ it is interesting to note the recent uptick in ratings now that the world is housebound.”

While ratings have improved because more people are in front of their sets, that spike could be threatened by the reduction in original product filmed in two states where the pandemic is the most serious – California and New York.

Fortunately, networks end some popular series early these days before the May sweeps.

NBC’s “This Is Us” always was scheduled to end the season early, with its season finale airing at 9 tonight. The series finale of ABC’s hit “Modern Family” was shot weeks ago for an April 8 airing. ABC's "A Million Little Things" has its season finale Thursday. ABC's "The Good Doctor" ends its season Monday.

But "Mom" isn't the only show that couldn't finish its season order of episodes. Many network shows are only shot or finished a week before they air.

I interviewed Williamsville native Michele Fazekas in her Sherman Oaks, Calif., office as the writer-producer finished the final touches on the season finale of “Emergence” in January a few days before the episode aired.

There are bound to be some shows that don’t finish the season the way they intended.

Carolyn Cassidy, the former Nardin Academy student who is now the president of Disney-owned 20th Century Fox TV, based in Los Angeles, certainly is dealing with the coronavirus impact on the industry. She oversees the production of 30 series across different platforms and networks. They include the “911” franchise on Fox, “The Resident” and “Empire” on Fox, “This Is Us,” “Modern Family” and “American Horror Story.”

“Suffice it to say, the TV season has been interrupted,” Cassidy wrote. “ ‘The Resident’ will end early, but has a satisfying finale in store, nonetheless. ‘Last Man Standing’ and ‘Empire' are TBD right now. We finished most other series before the shutdown was required.”

Pay-cable and streaming series can be different animals since HBO, Showtime, Starz, Netflix, Amazon and other services often don’t start running shows until entire seasons have been shot.

Tom Fontana, the Buffalo State College graduate whose award-winning career includes “St. Elsewhere,” “Homicide” and “Oz,” wrote in an email the second season of his latest series, Showtime’s “City on a Hill,” was shut down in the New York City area March 13.

“Showtime is paying the crew for two weeks, after that we’ll see where the world is at and if we can go back into production,” wrote Fontana. “As far as I know, Showtime wants us to finish filming the eight episodes they ordered for Season Two.”

He added the shutdown occurred in the middle of filming the third episode in the metropolitan New York-New Jersey area.

The show’s interior sets are primarily at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn and location filming is in Staten Island, Mount Vernon, Yonkers and other places in the tri-borough area. Parts of the first two episodes were shot in Boston.

“In nearly 40 years of making television, I have never had to deal with something like this,” wrote Fontana. “The speed in which the virus has changed our lives is staggering.”

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