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How Eminem and Jimmy Kimmel Took Over the Empire State Building

How did a comedian and a rapper take over the Empire State Building earlier this week? Turns out, if you’re Jimmy Kimmel and Eminem, it’s not such a tough sell.

Eminem performed his song “Venom” (from the titular tenpole) at the top of the Empire State Building on Monday’s broadcast of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” which is shooting in Brooklyn this week for the late-night show’s annual New York visit.

Kimmel had been wanting to do something atop the Empire State Building, and people familiar with the production tell Variety the idea came together because Kimmel loves a good pun.

“He loved the idea of the Empire State Building with Eminem,” an insider explains.

Kimmel and Eminem, who have a good relationship, have done a few stunts together in the past for Kimmel’s show. A source who was at the shoot says once Eminem was on board, the Empire State Realty Trust was, too, and did not push back at the prospect of filming a music video on top of the skyscraper.

“A performance on the Empire State Building was a dream of ours that was two years in the making,” Kimmel’s co-executive producer, Doug DeLuca, tells Variety. “When Google and Eminem came on board the project hit warp speed.”

The weekend of the shoot, on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6, New Yorkers (including this reporter) were sent into a tailspin, confused why two helicopters were circling the Empire State Building with the infamous colorful lights atop the skyscraper flashing out of control, which had never been done before for a music video shoot. Users took to Twitter to try find out what was going on and crowds lined the streets underneath the building.

The performance was pre-taped — which is unusual for Kimmel’s show, but necessary, given that the stunt could not be taped live since it was filmed at the top of a 102-story building — over the course of two nights, more than a week before the airdate. Taping began each night around 10 p.m. and lasted until the wee hours of the morning around 4:15 a.m. The unplanned overcast weather gave an intensity to the music video that wouldn’t have been achieved with clear skies. Partnering with Google, much of the music video was filmed on a Google Pixel phone, though one of the helicopters was filming wide shots.

“Looking over the side of the Empire State Building from the top is actually terrifying. You practically feel you’re about to fall off. Your palms get sweaty,” a source, who was at the shoot, explains. “It went off without a hitch — it’s surprising how drama-free and incident-free it was. The only problem was, where do you get something to eat at the Empire State Building at 2 a.m.?”

Watch exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from Eminem’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” shoot at the Empire State Building:

Jem Aswad contributed to this report.

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