Producer Don Mischer is no stranger to large-scale TV events. He was the creative force behind the Opening Ceremonies for the 1999 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, the 55th Emmy Awards, several Kennedy Center Honors galas and the 100th anni of Carnegie Hall.
But in taking on the task of infusing the Democratic convention with some showbiz sparkle, Mischer admits he’s in uncharted territory.
Viewership of the quadrennial political conventions has continued to decline, so Mischer can’t depend on a ready and committed TV aud.
“One thing that has happened over time is that the conventions have become overproduced, and a lot of people look at them as an organized pep rally,” he tells Variety.
Taking a page from the reality TV world, Mischer wants more everyday citizens involved in the convention process, a way to make it more small-d democratic.
Each night, he says, the convention will connect to groups of people around the country via satellite, an “American Idol”-like way to give John Kerry fans a chance to cheer him on and express their political passion.
The stage will feature two podiums so scenes can change rapidly, cameras can switch from one to the other and acts and speeches can follow in quick succession.
Not unlike TV news backdrops, the convention stage will appear abuzz with activity and feature a place where working Democratic Party staff will be operating computers and answering phones.
After Harry Thomasson‘s convention biopic on Bill Clinton in 1992, there are high expectations for this year’s intro-to-the-candidate films.
Mischer has tapped James Moll and June Beallor, who won an Oscar for their doc “The Last Day,” to create separate films on Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry .
Celebs on hand to add glitter to the five-day political gala include Carole King, Willie Nelson and Wyclef Jean.
“It’s a chance to be a part of history, to play a role in an election that affects the course of our country,” Mischer says. “I’m definitely feeling the pressure.”