'For Life' premiere: ABC series returns for 2nd season amid COVID-19 pandemic

NEW YORK -- The film and TV production shutdown caused by the pandemic delayed the start of the fall TV season, but ABC is now rolling out many of its returning series.

"For Life" is made here in New York City, which is appropriate because it is inspired by actual events that really happened in New Jersey. A man unjustly accused and convicted, studied to become a lawyer, and helped secure his own freedom. All the while, he helped fellow convicts fight their own legal battles.

The show was the first TV series to resume here after production ceased, which the star of the show, Nicholas Pinnock, took to heart.

"(It felt) like an honor and a privilege," he said. "We also felt like we were kind of the guinea pigs to see what was going to happen for everything else thereafter."

Joy Bryant plays his wife.

"It was a little stressful because everyone's watching us to see how we handle it," she said. "How we handle it, and what we do."

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To make matters even more stressful, the cast and crew had to stop shortly after they began. And again, Executive Producer Curtis Jackson III -- better known as the rapper 50 Cent -- feared they wouldn't be able to continue.

"We stopped production because we had some false positive COVID tests," he said.

Luckily, they were soon cleared to resume.

In fact, the "For Life" cast and crew had just vacated a prison set when I visited the former Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on Staten Island last month.

The location was used extensively last season, but season two explores the newfound freedom of Pinnock's character -- who is based on a real man named Isaac Wright Jr.

"He was incarcerated for nine years," Jackson said. "When they see him this season, they'll see him what he went through re-entering society."

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Characters will be shown navigating the times in which we live. Pinnock said it will be very clear the characters are living in the time of COVID, but reuniting the lead character with his wife required additional precautions behind the scenes.

"We have to hug and hold hands," Pinnock said. "That then requires six tests, five times a week."

It may seem like a lot to go through for simple scenes, but Bryant found it a small price to pay for a new season.

"It's about them reclaiming his life," she said. "A life that was taken from him, so we get to see him back home with his family and how he's navigating that, how he's navigating this new world."

RELATED: More on the big 'For Life' Season 2 premiere from the stars

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