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ABC Police Series Bans Live Gunfire on Set in Wake of Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ Accident

ABC Police Series Bans Live Gunfire on Set in Wake of Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ Accident

The ABC police drama The Rookie will no longer use “live” weapons while filming new episodes, showrunner Alexi Hawley wrote in a memo Friday, the day after actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins Thursday in a tragic accident while filming a movie. Although The Rookie did use mostly CGI to add muzzle flashes in post-production, “live” weapons were used during big action set pieces. The series stars Nathan Fillion and began its fourth season in September.

On Friday, Hawley sent a memo to The Rookie production staff outlining new safety measures at the show, produced by Entertainment One and ABC Signature. “As of today, it is now policy on The Rookie that all gunfire on set will be with Air Soft guns with CG muzzle flashes added in post,” Hawley wrote in the memo, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “There will be no more ‘live’ weapons on the show. The safety of our cast and crew is too important. Any risk is too much risk.”

Air Soft guns are typically used by film and television productions, as they look similar to real guns, but they use a pellet instead of bullets, similar to BB guns. The Rookie was already using a mix of Air Soft guns with CGI muzzle flashes added later or guns with quarter loads. Emmy-winning VFX artist Nick Sinnott tweeted Thursday night that adding CGI muzzle flashes in post-production are “of course” as good as the real deal, adding that it is the “easiest thing” to do. He later added that there is “zero reason to use live rounds,” agreeing with a Twitter user that CGI flashes could look better on camera than real flashes.

On Thursday, Baldwin fired a prop gun while filming the Western Rust near Santa Fe, New Mexico, shooting cinematographer Hutchins and director Joel Souza. Hutchins died from her wounds at a hospital, and Souza was treated for injuries at another hospital. According to a search warrant filed in Santa Fe court, Baldwin was handed the weapon from an assistant director, who told Baldwin it was safe to use. 

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Baldiwn, who is also a producer on the film, has not been charged and the investigation is ongoing. In a statement Friday, Baldwin called it a “tragic accident” and was cooperating with police. “I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family,” Baldwin added. “My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”

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