What turns into of Occasions Sq. once you take away a whole lot of 1000’s of cheering, shivering New 12 months’s Eve revelers?
It might now not be the “largest, most enjoyable New 12 months’s Eve social gathering on Earth.” However it might nonetheless be the evening’s largest TV manufacturing set.
For this 12 months’s pandemic New 12 months’s Eve, many tv traditions will probably be scrapped, together with the scenes of raucous celebrations internationally and impromptu interviews with exuberant social gathering goers at bars and golf equipment, wanting to say whats up to their moms and grandmothers again house.
As a substitute, networks are doubling down on the segments that they will safely pull off. They’ve elevated the variety of performers and interview visitors, decreased the variety of crew members and brainstormed artistic — and socially distant — areas to ship their reporters to. (As a substitute of reporting from a crowd of partyers, for instance, one CNN correspondent will report from a crowd of puppies, that are not known to spread the coronavirus.)
So whereas the kind of individuals who take pleasure in cramming themselves into crowds of strangers to observe the ball drop could also be dissatisfied this 12 months, the sort that prefers to curve up and have a good time 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 12 months’s Eve program, which is hosted by Carson Daly. “You will notice the identical confetti fly at midnight; you will notice the ball drop.”
However, like most issues in 2020, there have been some vital changes.
“Dick Clark’s New 12 months’s Rockin’ Eve” on ABC will ship Ryan Seacrest roaming round a a lot emptier Occasions Sq. with a digital camera crew in tow — carrying 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 pals who’ve been in one another’s social “bubbles” through the pandemic.)
In a typical 12 months, Cooper and Cohen invite interview visitors as much as their riser overlooking the crowds; this 12 months, the community will superimpose photos of the visitors’ full our bodies beside the hosts in a method that they may jokingly name “teleportation.” On NBC, slightly than slicing to raging events, the community will broadcast small household gatherings from inside their houses. Even the Occasions Sq. manufacturing set is smaller: Whereas it usually stretches from forty first Avenue to 59th Avenue; this 12 months it’s restricted to an area between forty fifth Avenue and forty seventh Avenue.
“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 heart. Three large screens will present close-ups of what’s taking place onstage for the small variety of visitors.
Emergency medical staff, frontline staff and important staff have 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 visitors 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 visitors would be the topics of the on-camera interviews, slightly 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 printed, networks should comply with state guidelines on pandemic tv manufacturing, in addition to protocols set by the varied unions representing the crews and performers. They’ve devised plans for testing manufacturing staffers for Covid-19 earlier than New 12 months’s Eve and for feeding manufacturing staffers with out letting them get too shut to 1 one other. (NBC rented extra house in Occasions Sq. to ensure crew members might eat and preserve correct distance.)
On Thursday, community staff will work from separate areas when potential. The director of “Dick Clark’s New 12 months’s Rockin’ Eve,” Glenn Weiss, is overseeing the printed from his workplace on forty sixth Avenue as a substitute of within the “Good Morning America” studio at Broadway and forty fourth Avenue. 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 lodge’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 dwell, together with performances by Lopez, Gloria Gaynor, Billy Porter, Cyndi Lauper and Pitbull. Many different performances will happen on levels exterior 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 normal, nevertheless. (Most haven’t mentioned which of the performances have been filmed prematurely.)
On PBS, a New 12 months’s Eve program, known as “United in Tune,” 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 have 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 12 months’s Eve fits through the years.
And networks are getting artistic in different methods to fill the holes previously stuffed by crowd photographs and partyers. CNN could have one correspondent getting a tattoo, one other snowboarding down an Oregon slope carrying a GoPro and an look from Carole Baskin of “Tiger King” fame.
With the pandemic driving folks away from bars and eating places and towards their dwelling rooms, executives say it’s potential 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 12 months at about 21 million viewers, in keeping with news reports.
“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 almost all People will probably be house on their couches.”
In a 12 months wherein greater than 338,000 People have died from the coronavirus, viewers might discover a tonal shift in contrast with the goofy — and typically tipsy — protection of years previous. The Champagne popping and 2021 eyeglasses will probably be interspersed with appreciations of well being care staff and emergency medical staff, 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 “Girl Marmalade” by Patti LaBelle in a gleaming white swimsuit opens the hour-and-a-half program that features extra severe notes, together with a monologue from the actress Audra McDonald about trailblazing girls 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 way of these grounds. On CNN, John Mayer is slated to carry out a tribute to lives misplaced this 12 months out of Los Angeles.
“We’re all going to be celebrating the tip of this horrific 12 months,” 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 12 months.”