It’s not often that a record is set unintentionally. But that’s what happened when Chris Brown took the stage Friday for the “Today” show’s Summer Concert Series, drawing a whopping 18,000-plus fans for a four-song performance at New York’s Rockefeller Center on a gorgeous summer morning.
Brown’s team told Billboard.biz on Friday that they hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary to draw the crowd – radio announcements, Facebook, Twitpics of fans waiting in line – and that sentiment was echoed by NBC News Senior Entertainment Producer Melissa Lonner when we caught up with her late Friday. Yet there was also some controversy involved in the performance, considering that Brown’s last morning-show appearance – on “Good Morning America” in March – ended with him storming out of the studio and breaking a window after Robin Roberts asked him several questions about his 2009 assault on Rihanna. But Lonner said the show’s staff had “no concerns.”
Billboard.biz: What was the actual number of people who attended? And is that number now the highest for any of the “Today” show summer concerts?
Melissa Lonner: We estimate that the number is well over 18,000 and our security team believes that it is the largest crowd we’ve ever had based on the coverage of the plaza and the streets.
BBB: To what do you attribute such a turnout? Was anything different or special done by the show or Chris’ label in terms of promoting his particular appearance?
Lonner: We did not do anything different from any other artists that perform on our show. We promoted his concert at the series announcement in early May and then the week leading up to the concert on the show and on our websites.
BBB: Were there concerns about having Chris appear on the show, in light of the “Good Morning America” incident in March?
Lonner: Chris made his first television appearance on the “Today” show about five years ago and we wanted him back as part of our summer series. He is an incredible performer and he has hit songs. There were no concerns.