When Erin Johnson was named executive producer of “Entertainment Tonight” in June 2019, one of her first objectives was to give the syndicated show’s 7-year-old set at CBS Studio Center a major makeover. She had hoped to unveil the new stage in time for “ET’s” 40th anniversary in 2020, but just a few months into Johnson’s new job, the plans were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fast forward to today. “Entertainment Tonight” will launch its 41st season this evening with co-hosts Kevin Frazier and Nischelle Turner and correspondents Lauren Zima, Matt Cohen and Rachel Smith from a new set that was built over the summer.
“There are so many things that I love about this set,” Johnson tells me. “I think number one is just how much we’re able to do with it. It’s a lot of monitors. It’s a lot of LED lights. We can change the colors. We can put up a ton of stuff in the monitors. There’s just so much to look at and see. We really took our time and care with how we designed this to make sure it was going to elevate everything that we do here at ‘Entertainment Tonight,’ which is do great storytelling, have great interviews, cover celebrity news. So we’re talking a big glossy look for the show for the new season.”
The set extends into the newsroom.
“We’ve renovated the entire first floor of our building,” Johnson said. “When the staff returns to the to the office, they’re also getting to return to something new and fresh and modern and creative.”
“ET” has yet to set a return date for the office. In the last few weeks, the show has taped at locations throughout Los Angeles, including Paramount Studios and the London Hotel in West Hollywood.
The new set also is the culmination of bringing all of “ET’s” platforms under Johnson’s direction. Not only will broadcast segments be shot on the set, but Johnson envisions using it for digital programming, too. “We’re looking to branch out into doing more ‘ET’ shows on streaming or ‘ET’-produced shows on streaming, or just full videos for social that we can do from the set,” she said. “So that’s really the way that we designed it. It’s not just about ‘ET’s’ legacy as a television show. It’s really about ‘ET’s’ legacy as a brand.”
In June, “ET” won its sixth Daytime Emmy for outstanding entertainment news program.