During the third commercial break of the live film awards telecast on Sunday, Feb. 9, “The Conners” will deliver a live spot where characters comment on who won, who lost and/or what other buzzy moment just occurred during the host-less ceremony, Variety has learned exclusively.
“We’ll know within a minute or so of the live promo happening what the last award or few awards were and if anything was interesting about them,” showrunner Bruce Helford tells Variety. “We’ll write something or the cast will chime in and say, ‘Oh I want to say this…'”
While the writers and performers have to be on their toes to come up with something on the fly on the night of, the physical production team has had to come up with a very specific set-up for the camera placement and shot style of the live promo.
“We’re doing a camera watching the actors from behind while they’re watching the live Oscars telecast,” says Helford. “So they find themselves live on the Oscars, but they’re not being themselves as the actors — they’re in character as the Conners. So it’s an odd and very absurd process, but it should be fun.”
Helford also notes that in case of technical issues such as a power outage on Sunday night, there are emergency generators that will keep the cameras up and running for this promo.
“There’s no better platform to promote a big, live episode than a big, live event like the Oscars,” says Shannon Ryan, president of marketing for ABC Entertainment and Disney Television Studios. “The timing is perfect and we’re so lucky to be able to take advantage of this great opportunity. The producers and writers have been working closely with our marketing team on this live spot, and we think it will be fun for viewers to experience the Conners reacting to the Oscars LIVE from their living room in real time just like the rest of America.”
This is all in preparation for and promotion of the Feb. 11 live episode of “The Conners,” in which the broadcast sitcom will integrate response and reaction to the New Hampshire primary results as they unfold in real-time, using ABC News coverage as their guide. That episode, entitled “Live from Lanford,” will shoot live once for the east coast in its usual time slot of 8 p.m. ET and then again for the west coast at 8 p.m. PT. Each episode will be slightly different, as the news will move fast within the three-hour gap between episodes.
It starts with Mark (Ames McNamara) and Harris (Emma Kenney) watching the results of the primary for a school report. This set up will allow the various Conner family members to weigh in with different beliefs about voting. However, there is also an additional story about Louise (guest star Katey Sagal) potentially moving out of Lanford, sparking the family to throw her a surprise going-away party.
“The Conners” stars John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson, Michael Fishman, Kenney, McNamara and Jayden Rey. It’s executive produced by Tom Werner, along with Gilbert, Helford, Dave Caplan, Bruce Rasmussen and Tony Hernandez. The show comes from Sara + Tom.