American Music Awards 2019 Producer Previews a Night of ‘Can’t-Miss’ Moments
If you’re a music fan, you’re going to want to watch the 2019 American Music Awards live.
“There’s just going to be so many great moments in the show,” Mark Bracco, Executive Producer and EVP, Programming & Development, dick clark productions, told TV Insider. “I can’t wait for people to see them.”
Hosted by Ciara, the night will include performances and medleys from big names in music, including Taylor Swift being honored with the Artist of the Decade award.
Here, Bracco reveals what to expect from this year’s awards show.
How has your approach to producing awards shows changed over the years, especially with social media and the growing time-slot competition?
Mark Bracco: We definitely, across all of our shows, try to innovate and be as current as we can. Social media’s certainly a big part of our shows now in terms of being aware of what people are talking about and creating moments that are talked about on social media. The most important thing is, over the three hours, creating so many can’t miss performances that we get enough stories out there in our marketing and our PR that there are things you have to see live or you’re going to be behind the eight ball, whether it’s on social media or talking to your friends.
[That means] coming up with things like Billie Eilish’s first-ever awards show performance, Selena Gomez doing the world premiere of two new songs, Taylor Swift getting the Artist of the Decade, coming up with incredible moments you have to see live or else you’ll feel like you missed something.
How do you go about balancing nostalgia and newer acts, especially with the changing demo of viewers?
These days, in terms of the TV climate, the things that seem to still unite everyone together in the living room to watch something are either big entertainment live events or sporting events. For us, making sure that there’s something that appeals to everyone in the family is really important. Having all the young, current artists like Lizzo and Camila and Post Malone and Billie Eilish is so important, but then also making sure we balance that out.
So having things this year like Shania Twain, who very rarely performs on TV, and having her come on to do this amazing medley of all her greatest hits. Having Toni Braxton come back to the AMAs 25 years after winning her first award on the show and coming back to do her greatest hits. Having Green Day celebrate the 25th anniversary of their classic album, Dookie. Having people on the show that appeal to everyone so that everyone is watching together saying, “I want to stick around, I don’t want to go anywhere because there’s something coming up I want to see.”
How do you go about planning and wanting to support artists in their creative vision when you have things like Ariana Grande boycotting the Grammys and what’s happened with Taylor Swift?
For us, we like to pride ourselves on being the most artist-friendly company that works with everyone. We have an incredible creative team between all of our producers. … We consider it a collaboration. When we book an artist on the show, our creative team gets on the phone with their creative team and talks about the vision and what they want to do. If it’s at all humanly possible, we try to make it happen for them. Every now and again, for some random reason, there’s like, “We can’t have drones inside the building because it’s a building violation.”
But nine times out of 10, we’re always able to work with the creative camps of each artist to come up with something really special and really unique that really shows the artist’s vision on our show. I honestly feel like everyone walks away happy from the show because they know we are so artist-friendly and we’re going to do whatever we can to complete their vision and make their vision come to life on our shows.
Because you have to factor in tributes, medleys, and performances, how do you go about deciding which awards to air?
Certain awards — Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Artist of the Year, New Artist of the Year — we’re always going to give out. Beyond that, what we like to do is make sure we spread the awards across the various genres. We always want to make sure we give at least one R&B award, one hip-hop award, one country award away.
What do you look for in choosing a host? Why Ciara this year?
Ciara, first of all, is amazing. We’ve been working with her for a few years now. She’s been one of our hosts on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve for the last couple years; she hosts the Hollywood party. She’s so great to work with. She’s a great host. She works so hard. She’s energetic and enthusiastic and we just love working with her.
She had performed last year, and it was a great performance — her and Missy Elliott performed together — and when we started making plans for this year’s New Year’s Eve, we went to her and said, “Hey, what do you think of hosting the AMAs this year?” and she was in. She was excited, and we’ve been having all these calls with her. She’s doing a big opening performance that’s going to be awesome. And she’s a fan and friends with so many of the people that are going to be on the show. So she’s just a really welcoming, fun, warm person, and that’s really all you can ask for in a host.
What were your must-haves for this year’s show?
When the nominations come out, we obviously look at who are the big nominees, so this year looking at Post Malone, Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello — they’re all some of the people that are the big, big nominees, so those are some of the people we really go after. We’re really fortunate this year in that almost every single big nominee is performing on the show, which is fantastic. We just have such a stacked lineup this year.
Yeah, that’s the sense I get with every announcement.
It’s just one of those years where we look at our board, where we have all the performances stacked up on notecards, and it’s one after another. To have Post Malone, Travis Scott, and Ozzy Osbourne performing together? That’s never going to happen again, that’s amazing.
Christina Aguilera and A Great Big World, who performed their awesome song, “Say Something,” a few years ago, coming back to debut a new single, which is the most beautiful song. People are going to love it. There’ll be tears in people’s eyes. It’s just this stunningly beautiful song and the fact that they chose to debut it on the AMAs is just so wonderful and we’re appreciative of that.
2019 American Music Awards, Sunday, November 24, 8/7c, ABC