Bruno Mars Talks Going 'Live at the Apollo' for First TV Special

Bruno Mars, 2017
Florent Déchard

Bruno Mars performs at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Bruno Mars will be traveling between concerts on the South America leg of his world tour when CBS Television Network premieres Bruno Mars: 24K Magic Live at the Apollo tonight (Nov. 29, 10:00 p.m.-11 p.m. ET/PT). But the multi-tasker has already viewed the telecast multiple times during the last several months as co-executive producer of his first primetime special.

“We didn’t want this to be just a television show where the Hooligans and I sing three songs and go to commercial then sing three more songs and go to another commercial,” Mars tells Billboard during a day off from the tour. “The band and I wanted to create a vibe that translates what we felt at the Apollo Theater. As soon as we walked in there, we said this is the only place to do this special. Hopefully, the audience will feel that vibe at home.”

Before Mars stood on the legendary stage, the Apollo Theater already meant something special to him. Among his favorite childhood memories are watching the television series Showtime at the Apollo and listening to James Brown’s groundbreaking 1963 album Live at the Apollo. “You can feel a aura,” says Mars of the venue. “There’s definitely some kind of magic going on inside there.” Like Brown, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and others before him, Mars also rubbed the theater’s fabled “Tree of Hope” stump for good luck. “Of course, I had to do that,” he says with a laugh.

Mars and the Hooligans also rubbed elbows with the residents of the Apollo’s surrounding Harlem, New York neighborhood. “We wanted everybody in the community to come out to the show,” says Mars. “So we passed out tickets as we met people in different locations. You’ll see them in the audience at the Apollo.” Teaser trailers promoting Bruno Mars: 24K Magic Live at the Apollo follow Mars and the Hooligans as they cruise the streets, visit a local park, hang out in a restaurant kitchen and jam atop the Apollo marquee. 

Michael Crowe/CBS
Bruno Mars performs at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Besides the CBS television special, Mars is also celebrating the six nominations he received for the upcoming 60th Grammy Awards. Those nods -- including record of the year (“24K Magic”), album of the year (24K Magic) and song of the year (“That’s What I Like”) -- bring his total of career Grammy nominations to 27.

Following his Nov. 28 performance in Chile, Mars will bring his world tour to Peru (Nov. 30), Ecuador (Dec. 2), Colombia (Dec. 5) and Costa Rica (Dec. 7) before returning to the U.S. for another North America run beginning with a two-night stand  in Washington, D.C. (Dec. 20-21).

View the latest trailer for Bruno Mars: 24K Magic Live at the Apollo: