ADG Awards 2012: Designers on Design

John Iacovelli on James Yarnell, production designer, “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars

The production design of some television shows becomes instantly iconic. Think of “Hollywood Squares” or “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” They inhabit our psyche and are forever a part of the visual history of the small screen.

James Yarnell has created such icons with his production designs for “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars,” both nominated by the Art Directors Guild for our annual award for Excellence in Production Design. I was afforded a backstage tour of these shows last year in their massive adjoining soundstages at CBS Television City in Los Angeles.

What I admire about both shows is they have large-scale sets designed for the intimacy of the TV screen.

“Idol” has a future-forward look. It proclaims, “This is success, this is triumph!” Eschewing the curtains and backstage Broadway look of earlier talent shows like “Star Search,” the set of “Idol” instead evokes the pageantry of a coliseum and the explosive technology of a rock concert. This is where stars are born.

On the flipside, walking from one stage to another I was impressed by the sense of Hollywood glamour and grandeur in the gold and red palette of “Dancing With the Stars.” As a viewer, you feel as if you have been invited to the Governors Ball after an awards ceremony. This is where stars are reborn.

John Iacovelli’s credits include “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” “Los Americans” and “Lincoln Heights.”

ADG AWARDS 2012
Tightening the definition
Designers on design
Production designers and art directors comment on the ADG-nominated work of their peers
John Muto on Dante Ferretti | Greg Grande on Jefferson Sage | Norm Newberry on Stuart Craig | John Sabato on Patti Podesta | Ken Averill on Christopher Glass | John Shaffner on Steve Bass | Dave Blass on Mark Worthington | John Iacovelli on James Yarnell

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