How HBO Latino Music Series ‘A Tiny Audience’ Pulled Off a Miracle During COVID
When the pandemic hit last year, production on the second season of the HBO Latino music series A Tiny Audience — think MTV Unplugged meets VH1 Behind the Music — didn’t miss a beat. After deciding to film despite the obstacles, they created a COVID-19-free bubble at Miami Studios in South Florida and let things rip.
“I guess it’s stubbornness,” Maurice Keizer, creator and executive producer, told TV Insider. “In August, we thought there must be a way to do this, not understanding the extra cost that was involved, which hit us like a brick a little bit later. I had real doubts it would work. It worked out amazingly well.”
The 16-episode Season 2, which premieres March 19, was filmed over the course of two weeks. It features top artists in Latin music — think Pedro Capó, Kany Garcia, Lauren Jauregui, Paulina Rubio — who were put through extensive quarantining and testing before being allowed to perform before a small audience of some 40 people. These audience members were put in a “bubble,” and saw each show.
The heavy-hitter artists not only performed, they opened up about their lives, sources of inspiration, and more.
“We ask the artists to tell us something they’ve never told anyone before,” Keizer said. “You get answers like, ‘My song was streamed a billion times, and I did not make a penny because someone stole the money.’ Most artists wanted to talk about their music, having no other platform like this to speak about what they create.”
TV Insider chatted with both Keizer and executive producer Christina Carroll-Becerra, who take us behind the scenes of the big undertaking.
Why did you decide to go ahead and film?
Maurice Keizer: I guess it’s stubbornness. In August, we thought there must be a way to do this, not understanding the extra cost that was involved, which hit us like a brick a little bit later. I had real doubts it would work. It worked out amazingly well.
Were the artists cycled in and out?
MK: We had a deal with [luxury car company] Bentley, so the artists were driven in a very classy way. We tested them at home and told them they had to self quarantine.
Christina Carroll-Becerra: We tested them where they were located, from Medellín [Colombia] to New York to Miami. Then when they moved around, we tested them. We had to get the results in a timely manner. When Maurice told me he wanted to do this, I fell off my chair. Then I got back up and said we can do this.
And how was the “bubble” set up.
MK: We had one hotel with a floor that was completely sealed for us. A bus that was our bus would go back and forth [each day]. The studio where we recorded was ours. There wasn’t a single positive COVID case after production. We monitored this very carefully.
How did the artists respond to performing before a live audience again?
MK: Some started to cry because they hadn’t been in front of an audience in some time. And this was when we filmed in October. Imagine now.
They’re used to concerts with thousands and thousands of people.
MK: The artists think performing in front of a smaller audience is easy, but then they find out it’s much harder for them than being on big shows.
And you had the same audience members for the entire season?
MK: Yes. We had our social media director wrangle the audience. She did a super job keeping them entertained because they couldn’t leave the bubble for two weeks. They had karaoke night with the music of the artist of the next day, makeup night…
CCB: It was summer camp. We all really became a family. Everyone wanted to be there.
MK: It was fun to have a show where there was no distance between crew and audience. The audience got really involved. In Season 1 we had a new audience every day. Manuel Turizo is very big in the Latin world. He kissed some of the girls on the cheek. I’m sure some of those girls have not washed their face. That’s how close they were to the artist. Audiences really became characters in the show.
What would you take from this experience into Season 3?
MK: We would like to have the same audience throughout if that’s possible. We’re exploring it.
Who’s on your dream list if there’s another season?
MK: We’ve been after Ricky Martin for the past two years. He has been extremely close to doing it. COVID restricted him. What I like about this show is you get to see them in a different way, so I would like to see him in it.
In the final episode you pay tribute to the iconic Juan Gabriel, who passed away in 2016. What can you tell us about that one?
MK: It’s very special. There are four artists: Carlos Rivera, a giant in Mexico; Natalia Jimenez, who came back from Season 1; Cabas, who is a rocker; and Justin Quiles, who is a reggaetonero. He blew everyone away. When he was done singing he was asked what would happen if he sang Juan Gabriel in his music genre. He sang a little reggaetón of a Juan Gabriel song. There are some really cool moments like that.
Season 2 of A Tiny Audience premieres, March 19, 9/8c, HBO Latino and HBO Max