When WME agent Richard Weitz and his daughter Demi Weitz first launched the Quarantunes series from their kitchen countertop, they were hoping to raise $10,000 for a local health clinic.
The invite-only series broadcast on web platform Zoom hit that goal in its first episode, and earlier this week announced a new milestone, raising more than $3 million for charity, thanks to their biggest show to date on Saturday (May 23) with performances from Beck, Bryan Adams, Elvis Costello, Santana and many more artists in a marathon four-hour broadcast. The Killers debuted two pre-recorded songs including a cover of Tom Petty’s “Waiting is the Hardest Part,” Billie Eilish made a guest appearance and Clive Davis offered color commentary while Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti offered a bilingual introduction for the LA Phil’s musical director and conductor Gustavo Dudamel.
And while most episodes of the series have been taped from the Weitzs’ kitchen, the father-daughter duo surprised the audience when they unveiled that they were broadcasting from the Hollywood Bowl, which is going to miss its first season in 98 years due to coronavirus. Weitz worked with the Bowl’s senior director of presentations Johanna Rees to arrange for the visit, opening with an appearance by composer and pianist John Williams and a four-trumpet live performance of the theme of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Next up was an acoustic performance from songwriter and performer Kenny Loggins. In between songs, actor Kevin Bacon jumped on the Zoom to riff with Loggins about the title track to the 1984 hit film Footloose.
“The movie wouldn’t have been the same without that song,” Bacon told Loggins, before he and two other musicians ripped into a lively, acoustic rendition of the nine-time platinum track. By the time Gloria Gaynor had finished performing “I Will Survive,” the Weitzs announced they had raised more than $3 million for charities since launching on Demi’s 17th birthday in late March, thanks to the contribution of the 1,000 people who tune in each week via Zoom.
Quarantunes has also garnered a ton of press, but the headlines describing the event as “exclusive” and “insider Hollywood” miss the goofiness of much of the series (which went four hours for their super show on Saturday). Richard and Demi are fans first and are genuinely excited for each artist and performance, which takes a lot of coordination with so many artists performing. Anyone who has used Zoom in large groups knows that things tend to occasionally go wrong and it was no different with Quarantunes, with occasional sound glitch or unmuted side conversation. The small gaffes are endearing — including when someone accidentally hit the annotate button and scribbled on the screen during one of the sets — and give the series a sense of credibility.
Quarantunes is executive produced by Weitz’s assistant Coco Weaver, who navigates through the 1,000 viewers who tune in each week to locate celebrities like Amy Adams and Debbie Gibson, who frequently tunes in to watch the series and often makes a cameo, LA County supervisor Sheila Kuehl and musical legend Herbie Hancock who sat for an in-depth interview before Rob Thomas, Seal and Andy Grammer closed out the Saturday series.
He’s been asked to open up the series to a wider audience on YouTube, but Weitz says obtaining the rights to every song would be a logistical nightmare and said the small audience creates an informal relaxed atmosphere. How is he going to top Saturday’s performance?
“I never look at it as topping I just look at it as figuring out the great charities and the diversity of music,” he told Billboard, adding that he’s always working to book artists for the series, pursing artists like an agent chases a client he wants to sign.
What about rock legend Bon Jovi?
“He’s doing a few,” Weitz wrote via text. “I want him.”