20-year old K.J. Apa, who portrays Archie on the hit CW show Riverdale, was involved in a late-night car crash last week after a particularly long day at work, which sparked an on set protest about safe working conditions. Apa reportedly fell asleep while behind the wheel during his 45-minute drive home from the set after midnight. He was taken to a local hospital for observation and later discharged without serious injuries. However, his car didn't fare as well as the actor did in the crash. The passenger side was reportedly destroyed after striking a light pole, and the vehicle was totaled.
The Hollywood Reporter says that sources close to the Warner Bros. production claim the late-night car accident has sparked up a huge storm of controversy on the set. It is being reported that the show often shoots into the early morning hours and some of the days are 16 hours long. The sources also say that the cast are not offered a car service, even after such a long day on the set.
Actor Cole Sprouse, who co-stars as Archie's friend Jughead on Riverdale, and is one of Apa's close friends in real-life, had apparently intended to be in the car the night of the accident, but changed plans at the last minute. Had he been in the car with K.J. Apa, he might not have survived the accident. Sprouse is apparently a leading voice for the actors on the show, and has recently asked that the Greg Berlanti produced series provide transportation to cast members when working such late hours, something that is sure to come up when the cast talks to Warner Bros. representatives later this week.
Warner Bros. Television policy states that actors are to find their own transportation to and from the set. But here's the kicker, the sources also say that the actors are able to call an Uber or even stay at a nearby hotel and that the studio will cover the costs. While it's terrible that this had to happen, it clearly could have been avoided had Apa not gotten behind the wheel in the first place. It does seem strange that the studio won't pay for a driver, but will pay for Uber or a hotel. Nevertheless, the incident has gone on to highlight safety concerns on the sets of all Hollywood projects, not just those of Warner Bros. Television and Riverdale.
The young cast of the Archie series are also really good friends, which may have added to the unease and anger on the set. One of the sources claims that the studio works the "kids from morning until night" and is quoted as saying, "someone is going to die." That's a bit dramatic, but there is something to that, especially with the recent deaths of stunt professionals on Hollywood sets lately. Warner Bros. representatives are expected to hold a conference call with the young cast this Friday to get the dialogue open and see what they can change in regard to the "unsafe" working environment.
Warner Bros. has just weighed in on the situation with a lengthy statement that counters the argument by claiming that K.J. Apa was offered a ride multiple times as well as describing the working conditions in greater detail. The statement reads.
"First and foremost, we are extremely grateful that K.J. Apa was uninjured during his recent accident. Secondarily, we want to specifically address the characterization that conditions on the set of 'Riverdale' are of concern. We have a large cast of series regulars, and our actors do not work every day. On the day of the accident, KJ worked 14.2 hours. The previous day he worked 2.5 hours, and the day before that he worked 7.7 hours. KJ has repeatedly been informed about making production aware if he is tired or feels unsafe, and if so, either a ride or hotel room will be provided for him. The accident occurred last Thursday. Additionally, it is untrue that KJ was taken to the hospital. He was treated by first responders on the scene and released by them. We also sent a doctor to his home later that same day for a follow-up to confirm his well-being."
The statement continues and further addresses the working conditions.
"The safety of the cast and crew on all of our productions is of paramount importance to the Studio. Productions adhere to the Screen Actors Guild-mandated turnaround time of 12 hours from wrap time to next day call time for cast members. In accordance with industry standard policy, if any cast or crew member feels tired or unsafe at any time after working, the Studio will provide a taxi, a driver or a hotel room upon request. This is communicated to all cast and crew, both in writing and verbally, at the beginning of production and is reiterated continuously throughout the duration of production."
As previously mentioned, Apa could have gotten a taxi or even a hotel room that the studio would have paid for in full. It seems that this whole ordeal was a lapse in judgement.