How the Networks Will Fill Airtime on a Quiet New Yr’s Eve
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What turns into of Occasions Sq. while you take away tons of of hundreds of cheering, shivering New Yr’s Eve revelers?
It might not be the “greatest, most enjoyable New Yr’s Eve get together on Earth.” However it might nonetheless be the evening’s greatest TV manufacturing set.
For this yr’s pandemic New Yr’s Eve, many tv traditions will probably be scrapped, together with the scenes of raucous celebrations the world over and impromptu interviews with exuberant get together goers at bars and golf equipment, desperate to say whats up to their moms and grandmothers again dwelling.
As an alternative, networks are doubling down on the segments that they’ll safely pull off. They’ve elevated the variety of performers and interview friends, decreased the variety of crew members and brainstormed inventive — and socially distant — places to ship their reporters to. (As an alternative of reporting from a crowd of partyers, for instance, one CNN correspondent will report from a crowd of puppies, which aren’t identified to unfold the coronavirus.)
So whereas the kind of individuals who get pleasure from cramming themselves into crowds of strangers to look at the ball drop could also be dissatisfied this yr, the sort that prefers to twist up and rejoice from their sofas will discover their custom largely intact.
“In some respects it’s going to really feel similar to earlier years,” mentioned Meredith McGinn, an govt producer of NBC’s New Yr’s Eve program, which is hosted by Carson Daly. “You will notice the identical confetti fly at midnight; you will note the ball drop.”
However, like most issues in 2020, there have been some obligatory changes.
“Dick Clark’s New Yr’s Rockin’ Eve” on ABC will ship Ryan Seacrest roaming round a a lot emptier Occasions Sq. with a digicam crew in tow — sporting a masks besides when standing in designated areas. And CNN’s hosts, Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen, will reunite in Occasions Sq. for a night of interviews and cheeky ad-libbing. (The hosts are shut associates who’ve been in one another’s social “bubbles” throughout the pandemic.)
In a typical yr, Cooper and Cohen invite interview friends as much as their riser overlooking the crowds; this yr, the community will superimpose photographs of the friends’ full our bodies beside the hosts in a method that they may jokingly name “teleportation.” On NBC, somewhat than chopping to raging events, the community will broadcast small household gatherings from inside their properties. Even the Occasions Sq. manufacturing set is smaller: Whereas it usually stretches from forty first Road to 59th Road; this yr it’s restricted to an area between forty fifth Road and forty seventh Road.
“We needed to reinvent Occasions Sq.,” mentioned Jeff Straus, the president of Countdown Leisure, which co-produces the occasion with Occasions Sq. Alliance. He described the arrange as a theater within the spherical, with two levels on the middle. Three big screens will present close-ups of what’s occurring onstage for the small variety of friends.
Emergency medical employees, frontline employees and important employees had been invited to carry their households to sit down in specifically designated areas in Occasions Sq. and watch the array of performances. In complete, someplace between 100 and 160 friends are anticipated to be current for the 11 scheduled musical acts, together with a seven-minute present by Jennifer Lopez main as much as the ultimate countdown. These friends would be the topics of the on-camera interviews, somewhat than the partyers amongst dense crowds of individuals, a few of whom wait in Occasions Sq. for a dozen or extra hours to make sure good spots.
To tug off the published, networks should comply with state tips on pandemic tv manufacturing, in addition to protocols set by the assorted unions representing the crews and performers. They’ve devised plans for testing manufacturing staffers for Covid-19 earlier than New Yr’s Eve and for feeding manufacturing staffers with out letting them get too shut to at least one one other. (NBC rented further area in Occasions Sq. to verify crew members might eat and keep correct distance.)
On Thursday, community workers will work from separate places when attainable. The director of “Dick Clark’s New Yr’s Rockin’ Eve,” Glenn Weiss, is overseeing the published from his workplace on forty sixth Road as an alternative of within the “Good Morning America” studio at Broadway and forty fourth Road. And NBC cameras are stationed on the third ground of the Renaissance New York Occasions Sq. Resort, the place the community needed to take away a number of the resort’s home windows in order that chook’s-eye-views of the occasion wouldn’t be hindered by glare.
The entire acts at Occasions Sq. will probably be reside, together with performances by Lopez, Gloria Gaynor, Billy Porter, Cyndi Lauper and Pitbull. Many different performances will happen on levels outdoors of New York — together with these by Brandy, Megan Thee Stallion and Miley Cyrus, all from Los Angeles, for ABC.
The networks have lined up extra pretaped materials than common, nonetheless. (Most haven’t mentioned which of the performances had been filmed upfront.)
On PBS, a New Yr’s Eve program, known as “United in Music,” was filmed in November on the John F. Kennedy Middle for the Performing Arts and in September at George Washington’s Virginia property in Mount Vernon, the place about 120 viewers members watched from a distance and masked violinists had been separated from unmasked brass gamers with plexiglass. NBC is displaying a brand new Blake Shelton music video. Spectrum Information NY1 will roll a spotlight reel of its reporter Dean Meminger’s flashy New Yr’s Eve fits over time.
And networks are getting inventive in different methods to fill the holes previously crammed by crowd photographs and partyers. CNN could have one correspondent getting a tattoo, one other snowboarding down an Oregon slope sporting a GoPro and an look from Carole Baskin of “Tiger King” fame.
With the pandemic driving individuals away from bars and eating places and towards their residing rooms, executives say it’s attainable that there will probably be extra viewers than ever earlier than. ABC, which tends to have the very best viewership on the vacation, peaked final yr at about 21 million viewers, in line with information studies.
“I can by no means predict what the Nielsen gods will carry,” mentioned Mark Bracco, an govt producer on ABC’s program, “however we’re hopeful that the majority Individuals will probably be dwelling on their couches.”
In a yr through which greater than 338,000 Individuals have died from the coronavirus, viewers might discover a tonal shift in contrast with the goofy — and generally tipsy — protection of years previous. The Champagne popping and 2021 eyeglasses will probably be interspersed with appreciations of well being care employees and emergency medical employees, in addition to reflections on the lives misplaced and the financial hardship.
On ABC, Seacrest will interview President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his spouse, Jill Biden, a uncommon political interview of somebody apart from the New York Metropolis mayor.
And on PBS, a gap efficiency of “Woman Marmalade” by Patti LaBelle in a gleaming white go well with opens the hour-and-a-half program that features extra severe notes, together with a monologue from the actress Audra McDonald about trailblazing ladies all through historical past and from the playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith concerning the historical past of the slave cemetery at Mount Vernon as she walks by means of these grounds. On CNN, John Mayer is slated to carry out a tribute to lives misplaced this yr out of Los Angeles.
“We’re all going to be celebrating the top of this horrific yr,” mentioned Eric Corridor, the manager producer of CNN’s program, “and we’re additionally going to be celebrating the start of what appears to be a hopeful yr.”
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