Keeping The BMAs Fresh In Packed Field
The Billboard Music Awards (BMAs) are part of a packed field of televised awards presentations this year. But that hasn't daunted the veteran production team of the 14th annual BMAs, which will be staThe Billboard Music Awards (BMAs) are part of a packed field of televised awards presentations this year. But that hasn't daunted the veteran production team of the 14th annual BMAs, which will be staged Dec. 10 at the Grand Garden Arena in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
Michael Levitt, producer of the show with Paul Flattery, notes, "This year there have been more awards shows than ever preceding ours -- several new awards shows added and several old awards shows repositioned to land in front of our airing.
"Initially, that created some concern, but I'm thrilled to say that the labels and the talent have really risen to the occasion and come out in full force. We have done a great job at keeping the level of talent high and keeping the bar high creatively."
Ten chart-topping acts will appear on the show-more live performers than ever before. Already confirmed are R. Kelly, Pink, Century Award honoree Sting, No Doubt, Beyoncé, Clay Aiken, Foo Fighters, Shania Twain and Evanescence.
Flattery notes that because of the bounty of talent, "we've got to be more aware of being fast-paced and entertaining. The show is going to fly. We've created a special stage that will enable us to make our changeovers faster for the acts."
As it has in the past, the production team for the BMAs is seeking to reinvigorate the show with a fresh look.
"Our guiding light is to continually try to reinvent ourselves each year," says Bob Bain, president of Bob Bain Productions and executive producer of the BMAs for the eighth consecutive year.
Bain says of this year's visual keynote, "Our plan right now is to create a set whose art direction is basically human silhouettes engaged in a variety of activities. This will go on during the presentation of awards, acceptance of awards and performances."
Beyond building an exciting visual environment for the show, the BMAs always aim for what Levitt refers to as "water-cooler moments" -- those highlights that people talk about at the office the next day.
"I like to think that we've become pretty well-known for exceeding expectations in terms of what's expected from these shows," Bain says. In the past, "we've made Garth Brooks fly, descended 'N Sync from the arena ceiling, put Britney Spears in the fountains at Bellagio. It's this bigger-than-life visual presentation that helps distinguish the Billboard Music Awards from the onslaught of competition."
In years past, off-site performances by Spears, Aerosmith, Bette Midler, Metallica and Creed have provided dazzling set pieces. Something special is planned for 2003 as well.
"We're scheduled to do Evanescence off-site," Flattery says. "They're going to do it in the neon graveyard in Las Vegas."
Plans also call for the production to exploit the space beyond the Grand Garden Arena's proscenium stage.
Levitt says, "We are never limited by the idea that there's a proscenium stage. The amazing, innovative group Cirque du Soleil's philosophy has always been, 'Let's not limit ourselves. What do we want to do creatively? Let's talk about that without limitation and work backwards from there.' "That's been our approach to the show. We leave no space unturned."