Aftershocks make biz shaky

Aftershocks to Monday’s Northridge earthquake made it difficult for the entertainment industry — especially TV productions — to get back into action Wednesday.

NBC was said to be at about 50% staff, for example, until an aftershock measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale hit — relatively hard — shortly after 1 p.m., when most staffers were sent home.

The network’s Thursday sitcom “Mad About You” had been scheduled to tape Wednesday night, but staff were skittish enough after the afternoon temblors that shooting was postponed. The sitcom “Getting By” was also put off, though that show is now expected to roll tonight.

“Seinfeld,” which tapes at the CBS/MTM lot in Studio City, seems to be among the hardest-hit series in terms of damage to its set, a spokesman said. The delay on NBC’s top-rated series is expected to last at least two weeks and possibly longer.

The networks remain hopeful that such breaks won’t affect the availability of key shows during the February ratings sweeps.

“The show must go on” award would seem to go to “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” meanwhile, which taped Tuesday and Wednesday, drawing good-size studio audiences both nights.

Two Warner Bros. series, “Cafe Americain” and “Sisters,” suffered water damage, but the company expects all delayed series to be up and running starting Monday.

Studio and network personnel report traffic remaining relatively light to areas such as Burbank, though the closure of the Santa Monica Freeway has clearly placed pressure on arteries such as Olympic and Pico boulevards in West Los Angeles.

One significant Westside resident, the ABC Entertainment Center in Century City, remained closed Wednesday, still being inspected for structural damage. A network spokeswoman in New York said it was still undecided whether the building would reopen today.

At this point it seems unlikely that the production delays will affect the networks’ pilot process for next season, since many of the series hopefuls weren’t expected to shoot until February or March.

Another NBC show, Universal’s “Law & Order,” was scheduled to begin filming again today.

Witt-Thomas Prods. reported that production of all its shows will likely be delayed for a week with the exception of NBC’s “The John Larroquette Show,” which will be shut down at least two weeks due to water damage.

In the national ratings, 84% of Nielsen peoplemeters situated in the L.A. area were back on-line Tuesday, having been knocked out of the survey sample a day earlier.

Pubcaster KCET also announced special programming for the balance of the week related to the quake, including repeats of the one-hour special “Surviving the Big One: How to Prepare for a Major Earthquake” and public-service announcements aimed at children featuring “Sesame Street” characters.

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