Zoom Stock, Phone Upgrade & Masks At Legoland: Dan Fogelman, David Shore & More Showrunners On What They Wish They’d Done On Eve Of Pandemic

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Alexandra Del Rosario
·5 min read
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Hindsight is always 20/20. Looking back a year into the pandemic, there are things we all we wish we knew at the start of the health crisis and shutdown. As part of interviews for Deadline’s story about how TV drama series incorporated the pandemic on-screen while dealing with it off-screen, several top showrunners were asked what their current selves would tell their February-March 2020 selves.

Here is what This Is UsDan Fogelman, The Good Doctor’s David Shore, New Amsterdam‘s David Schulner, The Resident’s Andrew Chapman and Grey’s Anatomy’s Zoanne Clack had to say about what they would’ve done differently if they had the opportunity to go back.

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DAVID SHORE

The Good Doctor showrunner

I think I would tell myself, a year from now, we’re going to be surprised at what we haven’t learned. I had no idea it would go on as long as it would. I knew it was serious. I knew it was significant. I had no idea how much so, and maybe, that would’ve affected the stories.

I didn’t know then, what I know now, but simply, the fact that we are still here, and the world doesn’t look that much different, now, than it did then.

DAN FOGELMAN

This Is Us co-showrunner, Only Murders In the Building showrunner

I probably would’ve told myself to cancel the wrap party that we had in February of last year. We had a wrap party when we wrapped our show. I was following more closely what was going on overseas and I was going this virus seems kind of scary and nuts. I wonder if it’s a really good time for us to be gathering 300 people with alcohol, you know, in a room together?

I remember people drinking too much and dipping their hands in bowls of hummus. And I was just like oh, God. And for like a month I laid in bed staring at the ceiling, as things got worse and worse. So, in retrospect, I probably would’ve canceled my wrap party.

It’s all hands, no crackers or anything, just eating it out of a bowl.

Other than that, I don’t know, I think I would’ve told myself to buy stock in Zoom.

DAVID SCHULNER

New Amsterdam showrunner

There’s an urgency for which we’re telling stories this year. We’re telling stories as if our life depended on them, and our actors and our crewmembers are literally risking their lives to make this show, so it has to count.

Oh my god, I’d tell myself to get a better phone. Get a better home line. My cell phone doesn’t work in my house. My home phone sucks.

I’d also tell my past self to remember how angry you were, and when you get too comfortable, remember how helpless and how angry you were, and keep some of that.

I was mainly angry about the Trump Administration and how so many thousands of people’s lives were lost because they didn’t wear a mask. How pathetic is that? What a moral failure, an epic failure as a country that we let that happen. It was happening before the Trump Administration, and it’s going to happen after the Trump Administration. People get left behind. People are left out of the picture.

ANDREW CHAPMAN

The Resident co-showrunner

I think it’s really hard to say because it’s a black swan event. I mean, a global pandemic is once in 100 years and, knock on wood, we don’t have another black swan medical event in the course of this lifetime of this show. But that said, our touchstone is go back to the science.

A lesson for us is go to the experts. Trust what the experts say.

I would tell myself to be patient. To not panic. There would be days when we would get two or three positive Covid tests in a single day, and we would be shut down, and it was like your hair was on fire. Like, “How are we going to get through this? How are we going to make it?”

There were moments when, early on, you couldn’t help but get angry. You’d be like, “God damnit, why is the crew getting Covid? Why are they not taking more precautions? Why are they not doing a better job?” In fact, they were doing a great job. They were trying to keep their kids in school, trying to have their spouses, you know, still work and make a living.

You really have to have faith in the good judgment of the people you hire… you have to have patience with them and see that if you do have faith in them, that they will make the right decisions.

So, you really have to just have patience and have faith in people’s better angels.

ZOANNE CLACK

Grey’s Anatomy executive producer

I would have taken Covid more seriously, quicker. I wasn’t completely in tune with everything that was going on. As a physician I had a lot of people who had been really, really sick from the flu. So, I was like, why is this so much worse?

This time last year I was at Legoland with my kid for his birthday. So, I was like, I hear it, I see you, but I’m going to live my life. I think I would have done a little less of that. I definitely would not have panicked as much as a lot of my cohort was doing… with the hoarding at the stores.

I definitely might have not gone to Legoland, although we all appreciate that we did it because it was kind of our last outing.

We did do a lot of sanitizing. We had our belts full of sanitizer, and we were as safe as we could be at that point being at an amusement park. But we all now look back and say thank God we did that. It was a time for our kids to actually see each other and be with each other and now they can’t. So, we don’t regret it although we may have, looking back, done it a little differently. Maybe worn masks.

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