By Shilpa Gopinath Posted September 16, 2008, 3:59 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES This Sunday the Primetime Emmy awards move to the Nokia Theater from the Shrine. Renato “Ron” Basile is in his fourth year of producing the show; we asked him about moving the ceremoney to its new home.
What production changes or challenges have you faced due to the move?
Any time you go into any new venue, there’s always going to be a challenge because you have to conform. The show has been at the Shrine for the past 20-something years, and it conformed to that space. There are pros and cons—there’s no proscenium at the Nokia like there would be at the Shrine—it’s basically a square box on a stage. There’s no close-down curtain. But then there’s a larger stage and three access points. It’s a balance. There’s a triple loading dock at the Nokia, and one at the Shrine. There’s parking for 8,000 across the way [at Nokia] and there were [a hodgepodge of smaller parking lots serving] the Shrine.
What are the biggest advantages of doing the show at Nokia?
You’ve got the wow factor that you need to keep a show like this going. Everyone is used to the Shrine, so when you come over to the Nokia, you have a much greater forum to work with. You have the plaza out front, where our red carpet is going to be. It’s much larger than the Shrine—you’re dropped off at Figueroa, and the walk is 600 feet, compared to 340 feet at the Shrine. There are screens on the plaza that we could project to.
What were you able to do with set design in the new venue?
We’ve embraced the audience with our set; you’re able to do it at the Nokia, and not the Shrine. We have multiple screens with an LED wall with plasmas that are on the stage. We have on-stage seating—we have 144 seats that are on the stage. We were able to extend the stage into the audience; it gives it a warmer feel. The Nokia is plain—it’s one big blank stage. You can get more creative. Your look is going to be much different.
Have you had to change the show to accommodate the new venue?
The show format is the same—it's still three hours. You don’t have to change the format, you just have to work around the house itself.
What are some surprises?
Some of the surprises are already out. We have Josh Groban; he will be doing something musically. We have five hosts [from the reality-TV world], nominees that are hosting the show itself. We’re going to play around with them a little bit. You can imagine with five people on stage, someone is going to be driving the bus.
Will we see any nods to the Emmys' 60th anniversary during the show?
We really don’t want to get nostalgic or antique a show like this. There is going to be some of that in the show. We’re taking it a step further because the future is reality at this point in time—that’s why we have our five reality hosts.
Why are Lauren Conrad and Christian Siriano designing dresses for the trophy girls?
Reality shows now have brought up some folks so we wanted to grab the moment and play with it. The TV audience makes the reality stars, and we wanted to have the non-norm of designers.
What is your ideal venue to hold the Emmys?
There are a lot of places I wouldn’t go—but you’ve got three perfect places [in L.A.]: the Shrine, the Kodak, and the Nokia.