Ralphie Report: Behind the scenes at the Billboard Music Awards
Some news and notes from my weekend in Las Vegas covering the 2016 Billboard Music Awards:
If you saw a photo of me on stage at last Sunday night’s BBMAs, it was not an illusion. For the third consecutive year, Dick Clark Productions hired me to fill the role of “warm-up act” for the show. This entails working closely with both the executive producer and stage manager of the broadcast to disseminate information to the crowd before we go live on ABC and during commercial breaks. Essentially I’m on stage in front of 20,000 people (and a lot of celebrities) hyping them up on the next performers or reminding them to wear their light-up bracelets.
And on the latter point, I thought the bracelets looked excellent on TV. If you attended Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour, the wrist bands were almost exactly the same. You had to wear it so that the buckle was on the top of your wrist and the light-up part faced out toward the bottom. They were activated twice during the show; once during Meghan Trainor’s performance of “No” and again during Madonna and Stevie Wonder’s rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain.”
In addition to handling on-stage duties for DCP, I helped out with our red (read: magenta) carpet broadcast on our national radio network, Westwood One. Because I was needed inside, I only spent about an hour on the carpet, and man was it a hot one. The Vegas humidity and dry air always gets to me and wearing a suit while standing directly in the sun only amplifies this. Many artists walked the carpet with hair and makeup stylists almost hand-in-hand for touch-ups as they made the rounds from outlet-to-outlet.
A person I had the chance to speak with, albeit briefly, was DJ Khaled. He is one of two celebrities I follow on Snapchat, so it was quite interesting to see him “snapping” in real life. It is also quite the production: he is using multiple phones and camera people, and of course will use multiple takes if needed. The mogul’s presence at the BBMAs was a part of a big sponsorship by T-Mobile, which holds naming rights for the new arena where the broadcast was held.
Although I was at dress rehearsal, I asked Khaled what his role was during the broadcast (in addition to some backstage vignettes, he was tasked with introducing Justin Bieber’s performance).
His response: “Stay tuned alert!”
But of course, if you watched Khaled’s Snapchat story on Sunday, you saw this. Definitely Snapchat peaked at the BBMAs.
With my gig, I watch the show with the stage managers, trophy presenters and other stage hands right behind the curtain on stage. This vantage point provides a number of cool sightings and moments, but perhaps most memorable was Celine Dion’s performance. She loaded on to the stage from our area, so we had the chance to hear her final vocal warm-up before she went live. As Dion was wrapping her cover of Queen’s “The Show Must Go On,” her son René-Charles Angelil was escorted to our post. He was then handed his mother’s trophy and sent out on stage.
Suddenly, there was a lot of applause.
And not a single dry eye in the house.
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