I just finished working on the BET Awards '08
. Whew. The show was a hit
, but, being privy to the behind-the-scenes goings on tends to give a different perspective that the general public sees. Now, I can't give away all of the *secrets* because, not only would it sooo not be cool, but also because I signed a non-disclosure agreement, and I'm not trying to get sued. What I can
share is the part that I find MOST compelling about working on award shows - even more compelling than the show itself: the rehearsal process.
I love, love, LOVE watching artists create, and the transformation from bare stage to a full-scale theatrical TV-ready production is nothing less than magical. The artists arrive at rehearsal without all of the fanfare and entourage that will come on show-day. They are in 'regular' clothing, and little or no makeup. They are seeing the space for the first time, and have to make it their own as the crew constructs an illusory world all around them. A few of them go through the motions - to them, it's "just rehearsal". I am immediately bored and return to the production office to work on something more interesting - an airfare budget in an Excel spreadsheet or something like that. When, however, artists are so driven- so compelled that they are determined to get it perfect
, watching them is a study in commitment. I am drawn in, and want to give a standing ovation, despite the fact that they are making rehearsals run long and I probably won't get to go home until well past midnight, I respect their
respect for themselves, their artistry, and their audience. I am inspired, and that inspiration, to me, is fuel.
We all poke fun at hi-profile celebs, and honestly, sometimes their antics warrant it. We always see them frolicking on beaches, jetting off to some remote, tropical locale, shopping... We wonder how they got to where they are, who they know, they slept with, and again - sometimes their antics invite these inquiries. Sometimes.
But I'm here to tell you that based on what I've seen in the 5+ years that I have been doing production work, most of them work JUST as hard as they play. These individuals have to support, not only themselves, but sometimes entire teams as well. They have international reputations to uphold, which has to be a lot of pressure on their shoulders alone because, as we all know, the bigger they are, the harder they fall
These are people who entertain us, and while it's tempting (and all too easy) to target these larger-than-life artists, and slander them with tales gleaned from rags at the grocery checkstand, out of respect for those who devote their lives to making us laugh, cry, think, and (above all) feel
, watching them when they are as close to alone as I will ever see them, lets me know that when all the lights are turned off, and the costumes are back on the rack, they're really all just human beings.
If there is a such thing as "just human", that is.
--Nicole J. Butler
P.S. - If you're still reading despite the fact that I had a problem getting the paragraph breaks to display, THANK YOU!