NEW YORK — Vogue and VH1 are hoping going live will help them avoid the glitches that troubled last year’s VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards.
The fourth-annual edition of the two-hour awards show will air from Radio City Music Hall on Oct. 15 at 9 p.m. on VH1, and will be rebroadcast four to six times over the following week. Debra Messing will host this year’s show, with featured performances by Pink, David Bowie, Santana and Michelle Branch, as reported. Celebrities slated to present include Gwyneth Paltrow, Venus and Serena Williams, Eve and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.
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VH1 and Vogue executives are naturally anxious to avoid last year’s hiccups, which included Gwen Stefani having trouble getting through security, Lenny Kravitz being forced to retape his entrance, and Calvin Klein having to present Stella Tennant with her “Model of the Year” award twice. By the time Alicia Keys, John Mellencamp and Sugar Ray gave their performances, the V.I.P.s had left for the after-party and the audience was sparse.
“First of all, we’re going live. With so many acts and personnel involved, there’s an immediacy to it and energy you don’t get with a taped show,” said Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue.
She also pointed out that although last year’s show was taped, it had been live in prior years. In addition, she said last year’s show strained the seams at the Hammerstein Ballroom, and this year Radio City Music Hall, which seats 5,000 people, should provide a much better environment. “Radio City is enormous and it will have a grandeur it hasn’t had before,” Wintour said.
According to Christina Norman, general manager of VH1, “We’re playing around with the format and the overall feeling of the show. This year, there’s been so much emphasis on glamour and elegance. We’re going to bring the red carpet inside.”
She agreed that the fact that the show will be taped live will give it more spontaneity. “Anything can happen. I love live. You capture more energy live, especially the unexpected moments and unscripted moments. The great reactions you get from people is unbelievable. People love feeding off the crowd. There’s a lot more excitement,” Norman said. Unlike last year’s event, where V.I.P.s were seated around the stage at tables, this year there will be theater-style seating.
Another change will be a new set, which will have a runway jutting out into the audience. “A paparazzi feeling will pervade the house. We’re taking a lot of inspiration that goes on at the fashion shows,” Norman said.
Wintour said there will be a red carpet segment that will feature celebrities and designers entering and a runway show highlighting many designers’ outfits. There will be a special tribute to Ralph Lauren, who is celebrating 35 years in business, and who will be there to accept his award, Wintour said.
“This year, it’s about celebrity fashion and having fun with it and the connection between music and fashion. All the awards will take that approach,” Wintour said.
To be sure, the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards have never carried the same clout as the Emmys and Oscars, or even MTV’s Video Music Awards. Norman attributed that to the fact that the show is fueled by fashion and “fashion is reinvented every year.”
Wintour said she believes designers have benefitted from winning a VH1/Vogue Fashion Award.
“Tom Ford has said the visibility was extraordinary for him. “For us, this is about raising the profile of our designers. To get an award and have Vogue’s and VH1’s name attached to it means a lot to the fashion community.”
Wintour also believes that having Messing host the show will be advantageous.
To promote the show, VH1 began running TV spots earlier this month, as well as a radio campaign. It’s also begun a guerrilla marketing campaign. During the recent New York fashion shows, VH1 gave out Altoids with stickers advertising the event. Vogue has been promoting the event in its issues, and plans extensive coverage in its November issue, profiling most of the winners. Official invitations to the event were sent out this week.
The show’s executive producer is Carol Donovan, and Lee Rolontz is the executive in charge of production. The set will be designed by Bruce Rogers, who designed last year’s set. Candy Pratts Price, creative director of the show, is the link between Vogue and the network, and the show is being styled by KCD, which will cast and style the models, and choreograph and block the segments.
VH1 declined to say how much the show will cost to produce, and how much they expect to generate in advertising, but two years ago, the show cost $1.8 million to produce and made between $12 million to $15 million in advertising.
This year’s sponsors are Herbal Essences True Intense Hair Color, Ecco Domani Italian Wines, T-Mobile, BMW, Pantene Pro-V, Skyy Blue Ultra Premium Malt Beverage, Crest Whitestrips, Chrysler and Maybelline.