Amazon’s ‘Lord Of The Rings,’ ‘Genius: Aretha,’ And Other Shows Are Heading Back Into Production

Coronavirus cases may be rising in part of the United States, and yet one industry that’s been mostly shuttered for the last six months is starting to go back to work: scripted television. Talk shows, even the occasional comedy series, like SNL, has found ways to adapt to our socially distancing times, but others have simply had to wait. But that wait is coming to an end, at least for a small handful of shows.

One of those is lucky to be based on the other side of the world, in a nation that’s pretty much got this all under control: Amazon’s pricey Lord of the Rings series, which is shooting in New Zealand. According to Deadline, production on the show — which imagines the events leading up to J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved trilogy — has already resumed, having been forced to stop mid-March after coming close to finishing two episodes. During the months-long hiatus, the screenwriting team has been planning out Season 2, as it’s safe to say lots of people want to watch any new show, particularly if it’s returns us to Middle-earth.

Meanwhile, the new Cowboy Bebop, also based in New Zealand, is set to start back up on September 30, and a fellow Netflix program, Sweet Tooth, has been back in front of the lens since September 14. (In other New Zealand news, James Cameron announced he just finished principal photography on the first of four Avatar sequels, with the threequel almost entirely in the bag. Now he and his team just have to spend two years adding cutting edge special effects.)

That’s New Zealand, though. Some productions in the United States are taking the risk and going back to work. Among those is Genius: Aretha, the third in NatGeo’s series about pioneering historical figures, which previously highlighted Albert Einstein (played by Geoffrey Rush) and Pablo Picasso (Antonio Banderas). This one stars Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin, and Deadline reports that, after shutting down in March after filming 5 ½ of its eight episodes, it’s going to try and complete the other 2 ½ starting on October 1. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see it before we see Respect, the Aretha Franklin movie, starring Jennifer Hudson, which is currently scheduled for January 15 of next years but who’s to say what if most theaters will be back open by then?

Genius: Aretha is shooting in Atlanta, Georgia, not too far from production on another show that’s already back: The Walking Dead. According to, one of its stars, Norman Reedus, went on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to talk about the many rules they have to follow while shooting in our COVID-ravaged country.

“We have all these protocols now. We have to take COVID tests three times a week,” Reedus told Kimmel. “The epidemiologist from the Pentagon during the SARS scare is our on-set doctor now. There’s a whole thing going on over here.” The production is looking to complete another half-dozen episodes, which are reportedly smaller in scale than the previous, wild season. So if you were worried you’d have no new content that didn’t involve actors sitting in front of webcams in their living room, then breathe easy.

(Via Deadline and