Monday, November 19, 2007

Glamorous Part of My Day Job?

01 cans recording WMA 2006 edit

For most of you, this won't really warrant listening to. It's not really entertainment per se! - It is however a real peach of a comms recording for those of us in the show industry - Again, for those of you not in "the game" I apologise for name dropping - I don't know or mix with any of the people I'm about to mention.... I just do shows with them. There's no glamour really in what we do - but sometimes it sounds like we love and know celebrities.... We don't really.... we just work with them. It's ok - we're normal!

<Quick update in 2014> Oh and I originally posted this blog years ago... like in 2008 or something - IE prior to Jackson's (and Peaches Geldof's) untimely deaths... which is why there's no mention of it other than here....

So, on this occasion, we were "doing" Michael Jackson for a well known televised music awards ceremony and things were not going well at all - mainly because there was no event director and the crew were making it up as they were going along.

The main voices are me - Spike Allibone the showcaller, Iain the First AD for TV (Doing a senior floor manager / SM job) and Rachel and Sarah who were getting the acts on and off including Lindsay Lohan and other presenters who also had no idea what was going on.

The show only got recorded from about halfway through once a very savvy sound tech (Nick) realised that someone might enjoy or perhaps learn from listening to what happened "on cans" that day. What had happened before was equally if not more chaotic, but is sadly lost!

Iain deliberately left his headset mic on during some of the negotiations happening backstage just so that the rest of us could hear the nightmare he was having. Some of the real gems you have to listen hard quite hard for as a result of this. Iain basically has various political and/or emotional pleas with managers on behalf of:

Chris Brown who was doing a Jackson tribute piece (which was actually very good when he and his dancers eventually got on stage)

Rihanna (who's manager appeared to get the wrong end of the stick and threatens to "walk away" 1 minute to going on after having been "insulted")

Tokio Hotel - Some German band who basically had a terrible time all round, then got their entire act pulled. They hated us. I can totally understand why.

And of course Jackson himself at the end who really was completely in his own "bubble" and ended up doing very little by way of entertainment.

I have edited parts of the conversation, mainly to take out pauses during some of the track running time.

You join us as we fire off an Enya song "It's in the Rain" which goes ok. You are then actually only subjected to the Chris Brown version of "Thriller" Rihanna's song (whatever it was) and Jackson who did three minutes of "We are the World". These brief three songs however, even after I edited them down, still create a show running time of 41 minutes!

The screaming (mainly Jackson) fans had to put up with no small amount of "tumbleweed" across the stage as we tried to build the show in the gaps and as it was happening.

The crew involved were the most superb you can find, all from the very top of the live event industry. None of us however stood a chance against various factors that were built in to the event right from the start.

I happen to know that various members of the op team took a while to face up to listening to this recording since it brought back some rather unpleasant memories of what we often call the "train wreck" - others think it's the funniest thing they have ever heard and can't wait for the next one!

One of the things that I found so amazing is how none of us slag off the show or those responsible for the mess - I'd have thought we'd have been more derogatory.

When we are told a few minutes before Jackson goes on that he wants his track re-edited down from 7 minutes to 3, we just get on with it! We are all such professionals!

At the end as I sign off, I can tell that I wanted to say something about the three hour long fiasco - but instead I just thank everyone.

A few days after the show however, and when nothing was recording us, there were some "choice words" - which I shan't repeat here.

Protagonists are:

Spike – Showcaller 

Iain – 1st AD for TV 
Rachel Floor manager in charge of presenters and performers SL 
Sarah Floor Manager with George the VOG 
Seb floor Manager with Lindsay Lohan 
Richie – VT 
Dave – Fleetwood Sound 
Rob - Pyro
Nick – sound 
Renee – Performer Sound & mic liaison 
Max on autocue
George - Voiceover artist

The lighting guys were all German and couldn’t make head nor tail of the somewhat erratic comms conversations – and in any case they had a whole circuit of their own with follow spot ops etc who were also all shouting at once – so we kept them separate and I used my assistant to relay messages to them. 

FOH Sound engineers also had their own loop and were too busy to wear headsets and talk on the main show ring so they just mixed whatever came on stage in some mad but apparently logical way. Most of the acts we had were performing with backing tracks all cued by Dave in “Fleetwood” (the broadcast sound truck) when given the instruction to do so by me.

If you want to watch a Youtube cut down of the performance of this show - go here.

I doubt you'll listen to it all - but here's a summary / crib of how the 41 minutes play out... it gets a little calmer and easier to understand after the first min or so as the comms channels get refined.

00.30 Enya – It’s in the Rain
02.50 V/o intros Bob who gives Katie Melua some award or other. Peaches Geldoff then announces Shakira win of some other award
05.11 – Peaches misses acceptance message – she thinks there’s a Shakira video
05.49 – pyro for Michael?
07.33 – Spike makes up what he thinks we should do for Michael to receive his award
09.09 – whatever’s on your script “ I haven’t got one!”
09.49 – set Michael on fire!
10.54 – has someone got wind?
11.10 – who have we forgotten to put on stage?!
11.51 – the venue are going to throw the breaker!
12.45 – guys, listen up and listen fast! – Iain has a plan
13.27 – iain leaves his Mic on
13.52 – it’s time to meet the muppets!
13.58 – Michael won’t come out unless you’ve gone
15.00 – Michael can’t decide if he wants autocue
15.27 – Melissa is panicking
15.59 – these guys are out of control!
16.05 – who’s got Beyonce’s script?
16.45 – are we going to hurt Michael?
17.51 – Rihannas manager is not going on after Michael
18.38 – if there is an end to the show!
20.18 – standby we’re going!
20.50 – thriller starts – but where’s Michael?
21.14 – do you want Michael now? – they finally get him
22.26 – should be plain sailing
22.35 – Michael wants his script – and we have it – does Beyonce want hers?
23.33 – get Beyonce on – standby Guinness guy the podium is right there, you can’t miss it!
25.02 – Rachel runs out of floor managers
25.25 – Michael goes on stage
26.08 – Iain has never seen such a shambles
26.58 – Guinness man misses the podium
27.27 – get Lindsay to intro Rihanna – she refuses
28.00 – confusion – who are we VOing?
28.39 – Rihanna is booed (the fans were mainly there for Jackson and were getting impatient) – but actual talent shines through and is cheered at end!
29.37 – Lindsay is Michael’s friend
31.16 – Michael’s people force the show for “We are the World” Do it now!
31.39 – standby on both tracks – see who wins the fight
32.46 – let’s get a script written for Lindsay to close the show
33.50 – Lindsay really wants to intro Michael, they’re friends!
35.13 – track is being edited – bedlam everywhere
36.37 – Shut up! I’ve got Michael – Start the track and the children will sing!
37.20 – Music runs
37.40 – Michael goes on (I cut a big wedge out here – Michael went on in the last minute of a 3 min song!)
38.37 – He does whatever singing he feels like and then we run out of track
39.00 – Tokio Hotel is finally closed
39.18 – we think the show is over – but we lose Lindsay who is supposed to wrap it
39.55 – WTF?
40.05 – Iain grabs a mic and closes the show himself
40.30 – Yes George can go home
40.49 – Spike says goodbye


Anonymous said...

see the comment on the bottom of the next tirade. It was meant to be left here!


love y m

12 Squared said...

*lol* at least your mum is cool enough to drop by, really... *smile*
your email is here, and I'm such a blonde I've not caught it before now. I'll email you if I dont hear from you in a week or so, as you seem to come and go at random.
I'm not allowed, I'm required by a very good friend to keep it up this time.
thank you for sharing this, I'm not alone in a world full of things that are funny just because they're funny.