Neil Patrick Harris on the Journey to His ‘Best Time Ever’

15 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Harris takes selection gamble with ‘Greatest Time’.

On the broadcasting side, Neil Patrick Harris is first out of the gate with “Best Time Ever,” a variety series at 10 p.m. on NBC. So the idea of fronting a live hour of hard-to-describe television for NBC in the first eight weeks of the 2015-16 season doesn’t faze him in the slightest.

“I want to provide a good time,” Harris tells PEOPLE of his goals for hosting his new NBC variety show. “I want to be a bit of a taste-maker – a bit of a carnival barker.” Harris promises “a ton of random segments of weirdness and fun” when the show premieres Tuesday night, including “an A-list celebrity guest announcer every week and they’re there to throw to commercials.” And because the show is, as he puts it, “live, live, live,” Harris – an experienced magician – says he has a trick up his sleeve to get him out of any sticky situation: “I’ll pull a dove out of my pants.” BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Live TV, once absent on broadcast networks with the exceptions of sports, awards shows and “Saturday Night Live,” stages a comeback this season with two live series in prime time on NBC, and numerous live specials on multiple networks. Or so he insists. “Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris” is getting the Rolls-Royce treatment from NBC as the tentpole of the Peacock’s fall launch, fueled by his star power. “At worst, it fails. But that doesn’t mean the 42-year-old can’t show some appreciation for other hot men, and the Jealous singer is top of his list. “David knows it so I guess it’s not a bad thing to say… Nick Jonas,” he confessed during an appearance on The Wendy Williams Show. “I mean he was good looking before it was allowed to think he was good looking. The brand new selection collection premieres Tuesday.(Photograph: Chris Haston/NBCUniversal) It is a Wednesday morning and the ragtag forged of NBC’s reside collection gamble is rehearsing a glitzy nearer for its Tuesday premiere (10 p.m.

And if it fails, then I’ll do something else,” he says over a late breakfast in Beverly Hills in August between a packed schedule of production meetings. NBC will air a live production of the Broadway musical “The Wiz” on Dec. 3, and Fox stages its first live TV musical with “Grease” on Jan. 31. He’s doing a good job of making it sound like an easy thing for him to take a flier on; that’s the same approach he’ll have to take on air to convince viewers to join the party.

However contemplating what number of occasions NPH has taken a crack on the selection present generally known as the awards present, we expect we’d have an concept of what he’ll be giving us (learn: Numerous singing and dancing, however with jokes). Earlier this month even PBS got into the live-event business with its live nature special, “Big Blue Live.” Live programming is generally considered more DVR-proof — people are more likely to watch these shows live than to record them to watch later — than a recorded show. When Wendy showed the picture he had used on social media to toast the occasion, Neil opened up about their special day. “We had a reception, dancing at the end and we [danced] to Katy Perry’s Firework at the end,” he said. “We had fireworks go off and no one knew and they were timed to the music which, we were in this tiny little town in Italy and it wasn’t a big place where you would think something like that would happen, and they were going off perfectly timed. Earlier than lengthy, the sprightly actor joins a groupof guys doing flips and stunts on pogo sticks, and dashes throughout the stage to steer a drum corps, all whereas dancers (led by Nicole Scherzinger) gyrate up entrance. Hopefully this provides us a glimpse at what he’ll convey to the Greatest Time Ever. (Spoiler alert: These are principally from the Tonys and consists of nothing from that ill-fated Oscars.) Jackman and Harris have taken comparable paths of their careers, so how higher for example that than with a riff off the basic I Can Do Something Higher Than You from Annie Get Your Gun and a bunch of different Broadway tunes.

That’s us and our happy reaction to them.” Neil and David have been together since 2004, and despite it taking ten years for them to be able to tie the knot, the pair didn’t want to make a big deal about it in public. “For a small window gay marriage was legal in California but it was such a big deal, when I saw people going to the court house, there were photographers and it seemed like a big statement,” he explained. “We were in no rush to do it, and so then I wanted that to sort of pass away and then we could go and not have it be such a big statement.” But viewers fast-forward through DVRed programs less than one might expect: About 50 percent of ads get skipped when viewers play back a show on a DVR, according to CBS chief research officer David Poltrack. The present is “random, however not arbitrarily so,” Harris says later. “We would like individuals to be watching segments and questioning the way it was completed, whether or not that be some bodily feat or, ‘How did they handle that quantity of dialogue so shortly?’ That is our recreation plan: so that you can snigger, smile and marvel the way it got here to be.” Greatest is predicated on fast-paced selection collection Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night time Takeaway, which has run on and off within the U.Okay. for 12 years. But even crashing and burning, I think it would be watchable.” He compares the job of clowning around live on TV to performing “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” on Broadway, where he strutted on stage in drag, night after night for months, a role that earned him a Tony Award. “I relish taking challenges and trying things that might make me uncomfortable, and realizing it doesn’t affect me that much,” he says. Like its British counterpart, NBC’s spin is a mixture of reside and pre-recorded sketches, game-show segments, performances and elaborate excessive jinks.

In a single taped stunt, Harris poses as an inappropriate Austrian TV host interviewing unsuspecting Voice judges; in one other, he pranks his former How I Met Your Mom co-star Cobie Smulders at her house. You’ll know it soon because Katey Sagal has been made up like Gandalf. “The Bastard Executioner” may be seeking the “Game of Thrones” audience, but the new series plays like a mash-up of “Sons of Anarchy” and “The Lord of the Rings.” “Executioner,” set at the dawn of the 14th century in war-torn Wales, offers up precious local color yet dawdles over gore with revolting fascination. By inviting a number of Broadway legends onstage to sing a track about their canceled TV exhibits the host managed to kill two birds: He obtained in a an excellent loser joke AND reaffirmed how superior Broadway is in comparison with Hollywood.

And looking back, I probably would have scheduled that show in a different time of the year where there was more circulation on our air, and there would have been the possibility to tease something more sufficiently.” Mr. But at NBC, the show — filled with trivia, games, pranks, practical jokes, stunts and more — had already been on the radar, thanks to Paul Telegdy, the British-born president of alternative and late night, who’d gone so far as to show his boss, entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, a few clips via the Internet. Whereas Harris has hosted the Tonys, the Emmys and the Oscars, his song-and-dance type is actually greatest fitted to the Tonys’ Radio Metropolis Music Corridor stage.

Harris, who is no stranger to live TV having hosted the Oscars, Emmys and Tony awards shows, said “Best Time” will offer game show elements, audience participation, celebrity pranks and sing-along segments. NBC has tried selection specials up to now with Rosie O’Donnell (2008’s Rosie Reside) and Maya Rudolph (final yr’s The Maya Rudolph Present), each of which have been met with modest scores. (Rudolph’s present will return subsequent yr with new co-host Martin Brief, the community confirms). And though he is efficiently emceed the Tony and Emmy awards, Harris’ run as Academy Awards host earlier this yr did not assist the telecast from hitting a six-year low, down 15% from final yr’s Ellen DeGeneres-anchored ceremony. He was dismissive of the show until he sat down to watch it — an experience, he says, that left him giddy. “I’m super-random in what I like and what I do professionally,” he notes. “I love that I can bounce from ‘Gone Girl’ to ‘Hedwig’ to ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’ to hosting an awards show.

Nonetheless, Greatest is a wager that NBC is prepared toaccept, given the community’s renewed concentrate on reside leisure similar to final yr’s musical Peter Pan and this winter’s The Wiz. “Once we need to go huge, this firm will stand on its monitor report and everyone will get behind one thing a bit totally different for our fall premiere week,” says Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of other/late-night programming. “We attempt to put one thing on the market that feels on model and cohabits with all our exhibits.” (After launching behind the America’s Obtained Expertise finale Tuesday and Voice premiere subsequent week, Greatest strikes to eight p.m. This show exemplifies that.” With Harris formally on board not only as host, but also as executive producer with his shingle, Prediction Prods., the project ignited interest among the broadcast nets, including CBS and ABC, but the Peacock ultimately won out. “Mr. Moonves has been nothing but super-supportive and parental, and great to me and my family,” says Harris, who’d discussed a late-night gig with CBS honchos. “But right now, they are not in the business of primetime, live variety explosiveness (the show will settle into its Tuesdays-at-8 slot after a pair of initial airings at 10). His evil plan was good, apart from when he wanted to buffer. (Actual speak, although, the Web HAS …) What occurs whenever you add Harris, Within the Heights composer Lin Manuel Miranda, a Tony present and a rap collectively?

I actually assume the phrase ‘selection’ is totally applicable for what have been going to see on the present week in week out — it is totally different on a regular basis, but structured in just about the identical approach.” Sutter earned the chance to do whatever he wanted after “Anarchy,” but “Executioner” might have worked better as a “Spamalot”-style spoof. That made it an easy decision as far as I was concerned.” NBC gave some thought to shifting the show to an entirely taped format, which would have eased some of the complications of production, but soon realized that would sap it of its vitality. It was not the primary (or the final) time Harris closed a present by making rhythmic jokes about what occurred throughout it, nevertheless it was definitely one of the best.

But what will be even more fun is, while we’re all watching it, seeing the picture-in-picture of the actual couple on stage realizing at the moment that this has happened.” TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Four of his five Emmys have come for his work on the Tony telecasts — and he’s nominated again this year for fronting the Oscarcast. “If something doesn’t land like we thought it would, we’re not required to do the same thing week after week and panic,” says Harris. Identical to the title guarantees, this ode to the yr of Broadway and the theater typically simply retains topping itself, together with leaping by way of a literal hoop, a magic trick and dancers from almost each present on the Nice White Means. You possibly can see Harris sweat in his grey tux as he runs across the stage (and the viewers), and you realize he’s working his hardest to entertain you. Harris runs, jumps, pogos, juggles and gyrates throughout the number that will feature Pitbull’s hit “Don’t Stop the Party.” The level of synchronicity with choreographers and camera operators that goes into every step that he and regular sidekick Nicole Scherzinger take in the number reinforces the wildly ambitious nature of doing such a production every week.

Harris is literally all over the stage — which is much bigger than the typical talk show set — and ends the number standing on top of a bar prop balancing a baton on his chin. This is going to be about meticulousness with a spot of anarchy.” The show will air with a seven-second tape delay, as does all of NBC’s live programming, to guard against F-bombs or anything else that would send the FCC into fits. That meant importing “The X-Factor” exec producer Siobhan Greene to New York City for an extended stay as an exec producer, alongside showrunner David Hurwitz of “Fear Factor” fame. “She’s a five-foot-one barrel of dynamite,” Greenblatt says of Greene. “She’s done all the trial-and-error; she knows what works and what doesn’t. We needed her to show us how to pre-produce the show before you go out there live without a net.” Greene says NBC execs didn’t have to work hard to convince her to make the move. “ ‘Takeaway’ is a show very close to my heart,” she says. “But it’s not about re-creating what’s gone before.

But she’s confident their around-the-clock, around-the-country work will have paid off. “You’ve got to have guts to commit to a show like this, because it’s expensive, it’s nerve-wracking, it’s live, and we’ve got a big star doing it. One role the producers envision for Little NPH is interviewing celebrities about whatever comes to mind. “I hope it’s more fun for an audience to see someone who’s new at this, asking authentic questions and misbehaving in a real way as opposed to a theatrical, infomercial kind of way,” says Harris. “I hope he doesn’t clam up. On set shooting the title sequence, Harris checks in frequently with his Mini-Me, his paternal instincts coming through as the camera crew takes a bit too long between setups, leaving Nat standing around awkwardly.

Harris is keenly sensitive to making sure every moment feels authentic. “I find it a little bit tricky in our unscripted television world now,” he says. “Everyone knows what seems to be reality isn’t, and what seem to be authentic reactions aren’t. Harris served as guest announcer of that week’s installment of “Takeaway.” “Ant and Dec were incredibly generous,” Ahr says of comedy duo Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, who host the show. “We got to live a week in the life. He hopes they don’t become actors, but concedes, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up industry-adjacent just because they know so many people.” But right now, Gideon has his sights set on being a Jedi, while Harper is showing off her directorial tendencies. “Her favorite game is to try to convince you to play a game with her, and then the game has as many rules as she can possibly throw at you, so you are constantly doing whatever it is wrong,” he laughs.

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