The annual Super Bowl halftime show is one of the most-viewed musical performances in the space of any year, but few people outside the crew working on the extravaganza have been able to get a look at how it gets put together.
Now, that may change. NFL Media and Mandalay Sports Media have produced a documentary film, “The Making of a Super Bowl Halftime Show,” and hope to sell the initial TV rights to one of the NFL’s media partners, which include CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN (and its sibling, ABC). The team behind the documentary began following Katy Perry, the featured act at this year’s halftime performance, after she agreed to take part in the event, and continued to do so through Super Bowl XLIX.
A Super Bowl halftime concert is unlike any other musical performance, explained Ron Semiao, vice president of programming for NFL Network, in an interview. “People probably aren’t really aware of what goes into putting the performance on, because it’s so unique compared to anything that a musical artist does,” he said. “When they are on tour, there’s usually a sound check every day. Their performances are two to two and a half hours long. With this thing, it’s a little like a 50-yard dash. The performance is 12 and one-half minutes. There is no sound check. The last rehearsal is two days before the show.”
Just as NBC’s broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX broke Nielsen ratings records, so too did Perry’s performance, during which she was joined by Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott. An average of approximately 118.5 million people saw Perry belt out songs like “Roar, “Dark Horse” and “I Kissed a Girl,” according to data from Nielsen.Two dancers dressed in shark outfits also drew attention, especially the one positioned on the singer’s left-hand side.
“This transcends the sports world, and we see it as general entertainment, very much ready for primetime,” said Mike Tollin, who produced the film on behalf of Mandalay. Viewers will be able to see a veritable army of crew members and cameramen as they work to capture the show for a global audience, said Tollin, as well as the logistics of getting the event ready for the Game Day crowd. Perry and her management embraced the idea quickly, he said.
Given the intense spotlight the Super Bowl halftime show receieves each year, one wonders why no one has attempted this sort of feat in the past. For decades, the halftime show has played a large role in popular culture, spawning everything from the field-filling dance routines of Up With People in the 1970s and 1980s to the breast-baring antics of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake at Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.
The current initiative was borne from a desire by Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s executive vice president of media, who felt the NFL could give fans more by documenting the preparations for the halftime event and offering them access, said Semiao.
Executives expect the documentary to be ready by April, which would come in time for the league’s annual draft, slated to start April 30. Many of the big broadcast networks may be looking for content to fill their schedules, said Semiao, as they hold back on original episodes of their series to show during the May sweeps period.