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Bethenny Frankel predicts coronavirus will level the Hollywood playing field

Daniel Roberts
Editor-at-Large

Coronavirus has effectively shut down Hollywood, with every major movie theatre chain closed, big film releases delayed, and film shoots halted on all new studio projects. Streaming hours are way up on services like Netflix and Disney+, but those platforms won’t get any brand new premium content for a long time. As New York Magazine writes, “Hollywood is all but writing off 2020.”

On the other hand, internet creators are cranking out content from home, much of it unvarnished and spontaneous, on TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

Bethenny Frankel, who became famous from reality television (first on “The Apprentice” and then “Real Housewives of New York”), believes coronavirus is creating another shift away from scripted programming.

“I used to work in Beverly Hills as a hostess right around the [1988] writers’ strike, and I remember feeling like reality TV was borne out of that lack of scripted content, and then reality TV became an explosion” Frankel said on Yahoo Finance live on Wednesday. “More recently, scripted television has completely exploded... There’s so much content, I need an assistant just to tell me what shows I should be watching. So I think now [amid coronavirus], it’s the unscripted shows—run-and-gun types of shows that can just pick up a camera, do things at home—that’s why cooking is so huge right now, because people can just get their ingredients together, pick up a camera, and provide great content. I think it’s going to be a very interesting shift that will last for a long time, based on people being at home.”

Television personality Bethenny Frankel presents the outstanding culinary program award during the 40th annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Beverly Hills, California June 16, 2013. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)

Indeed, a new analyst note from Credit Suisse predicts, “There will be significant strains on the content production ecosystem... traditional media will consider reducing the number of episodes in a series, canceling projects that would become too expensive (we expect significant write-downs are coming for all of the media studios/networks), or reducing production quality (fewer locations and actors, smaller special effects budget, and so on). There will be a shift in production work flow to drive greater efficiency, in particular a modernization of post-production.”

And that shift will create a new legion of “influencers,” Frankel predicts.

“I do think it will be, in many ways, a level playing field,” she says. “People can find their way in now, because it’s a whole new world order. People who had no place in the playing field can get in... Let’s see who really can run in this environment, not in the Instagram filter, look-how-cute-I-look, gross world we live in. It’s going to be, Who works hard? Who works their ass off? That’s who’s going to be successful.”

Daniel Roberts is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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