‘It’s Always Sunny’ Star and Co-Creator Rob McElhenney Urges Studios to Keep Paying Laid-Off Staff

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, many entertainment workers are out of a job — and McElhenney has challenged studios to step up.
Rob McElhenneyThe cast and Executive Producers of Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet attend a fan screening at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Downtown Brooklyn. The series launches on Apple TV+ on February 7, New York, USA - 04 Feb 2020
Rob McElhenney
Marion Curtis/Starpix for Apple TV+/Shutterstock

The coronavirus outbreak has put nearly every TV and film production on pause, leaving many entertainment industry workers without a job or pay as self-quarantine becomes the new normal. However, many prominent film and TV players have called upon studios to step up and take care of their staff, including, most recently, Rob McElhenney, the co-creator, writer, and star of FX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and now Lionsgate Television’s “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,” which premiered on Apple TV+ on February 7. That series just saw production on its second season halted amid the pandemic.

McElhenney shared a lengthy statement, via Twitter (and seen on Deadline). His aim is to encourage other showrunners to speak up on behalf of their staffers to help alleviate the financial burden to come for many workers living from job-to-job and paycheck-to-paycheck.

“Here is what the most powerful people in our industry can do to help those in our community who need it most: Convince the studios to continue paying people during the shut-downs. This is a very complicated issue,” McElhenney tweeted. “The studios who have not committed to continuing payroll are NOT evil. There are many factors that have to be reconciled and it’s easy to be on one side of things and make judgments. The truth is that continued payment for an indefinite period is untenable, but…

“Recognizing that this won’t be over in two weeks, a month, three months — we’re all going to have to, at some point decide what a responsible return to work will look like. This is what we came up with. Hope it helps…,” he wrote, outlining what he envisions to be an effective plan.

“‘Mythic Quest’ is going down for two weeks. Hopefully that slows the curve of this thing and buys the healthcare system some time. Then, barring major developments we will create a protocol of medical clearance for each and every person to return. Including…

“Medics doing exams on everyone before return and then remaining on set for continued vigilance. The sets will be properly sterilized in accordance with CDC guidelines and we’ll all be keeping up with basic common sense measures…

“Make no mistake, this is not ideal. A complete quarantine of a few months would be best. But that’s not going to happen without a total restructuring of life as we know it. So, taking ALL of that into account, 2 weeks seems right. This would be a major hit to the studios and the producers. But so many of us have profited and benefited from this system in astronomical ways. It is times like this when we all have to make sacrifices. Especially for those who helped us to profit and benefit. The upsides here aren’t just for those getting their checks. Thousands are living week to week which means that they will be forced to seek employment. Which means they’ll be out in the world, putting others at risk. And who can blame them? They need to provide for themselves and their families.

“I am close with many people in positions of authority that can actually make this happen, but it’s a reality that they’re in a competitive market. If they make the decision to take the hit, they have to answer to their bosses who have bosses who answer to shareholders. Not easy,” he tweeted.

“This only really works if EVERYBODY makes the commitment to help. Just shutting down without a plan is not an option. I am so fortunate that I am in a position to help. I wouldn’t be here without the support of an entire community. No one in my position is. So to my fellow Hollywood types — I’m sure you’ve been consumed by this already and have probably enacted some kind of plan to protect your teams. But if not, it’s time. If you’d like to discuss in further detail, slide on into my DMs.”


Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.