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Variety reimagined for today

Variety reimagined for today

Television variety shows were in their heyday in the 1950s-1970s with programs like The Ed Sullivan Show, The Carol Burnett Show and Donny & Marie. That was a time before cable and digital channels fractured the media landscape. Audience expectations have changed along the way.

Is there a place for variety entertainment in the new landscape?

Stu Newmeyer is convinced there is. Newmeyer is the executive producer and cohost of The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour, which is coming soon to Pop TV. “Classic entertainment formats have been revived and modernized for decades,” he said. “That’s what we are doing in bringing back the beloved variety show and updating it for today.”

Jennifer-Lopez-dress

George Johnsen designed this eye-popping visual effect for Jennifer Lopez’s performance on American Idol

One way he plans to update the format is with spectacular visual experiences. And he has brought in one of the top digital producers in the entertainment business to lead the way. “We are so excited to announce that George Johnsen will be our visual effects director on the show,” Newmeyer said. “He has done pioneering digital visuals in television, film, theme parks, and concert performances. He will bring a lot of ‘WOW’ to our production.”

Johnsen is the founder of MammothVision, Inc., a groundbreaking digital production company based in Burbank, Calif. He was co-producer of the hit sci-fi TV series Babylon 5, where he set new industry standards in the creative use of digital video and audio in television production. His approach to visual effects on The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour will be to focus on the audience experience.

“We don’t to want start out thinking about which effects we want to use in a show,” he said. “We want to focus on how visual effects will enhance the story and have an impact on the audience.”

Audiences will see most of the visual effects in stage sets and costumes. “You might see singing or dancing acts where we use digital effects and animation to interact with the performers,” Johnsen said. “Or you might see stage sets that envelop the acts in an immersive virtual reality-like production. The visual effects will even extend beyond the stage into the studio audience.”

This video of George Johnsen’s digital production highlights will give you a preview of the visual effects you will see on The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour.

Newmeyer and Johnsen are keen on the prospects for a variety show revival, starting with The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour. “The format, with its short segments and fast pace, is very well suited for how people consume entertainment today,” said Johnsen. “It’s like a live version of the internet.”

Newmeyer agrees. “We are reimagining the visual experience of variety. And we are reimagining how brands interact with TV viewers by integrating brand segments into the flow of the entertainment instead of interrupting them with ads.”

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About The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour

The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour is a classic variety show updated for today. Its star-studded family entertainment is designed to bring the generations together. The program features big-name musical guests, sketch comedy, magic acts, spectacular dancing numbers, stand-up, and games and giveaways that appeal to the Boomer and Millennial demographics.

It is also the first television show to completely integrate branded entertainment into the programming to replace TV advertising. Brands can connect with TV viewers in more relevant, meaningful ways through sketches, songs, product placement, demos and other storytelling techniques. For more information on promoting your brand on The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour, contact John Gregory Olson at 888-328-3830.

Image: Valeria Andersson

Bringing the Millennial POV to variety entertainment

Bringing the Millennial POV to variety entertainment

LOS ANGELES – Variety Entertainment Group (VEG) has named Millennial Transformation Strategist Yuri Kruman as Guest Host and Vice President of Special Projects for The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour. He will host integrated brand segments geared to Millennials and serve as an advisor for bringing the millennial point-of-view to the program.

“One of our goals for the show is to use entertainment to bring the generations together,” said Executive Producer Stu Newmeyer. “Yuri  brings the voice of Millennials to the production.”

Kruman certainly has his finger on the pulse of the millennial mindset. As a Personal Development Consultant to Fortune 500 companies, he specializes in training Gen X and Boomer executives to work effectively with Millennial and Gen Z employees to optimize the bottom line. He also advises businesses on brand strategies for attracting Millennial and Gen Z customers.

The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour is a great platform for building bridges between Boomers and Millennials,” said Kruman. “The updated variety format will appeal to Millennials. And the positive energy of the show will appeal to all generations.”

Yuri Kruman

Yuri Kruman

It takes a lot of energy just to keep up with Kruman. In addition to his cross-generational consulting work, he is in high demand as a business, career, and life coach. He is an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council, and his coaching has impacted thousands of Fortune 500 and startup executives on five continents.

Kruman is also a contributing writer for Forbes, and has written for or been featured in several other business publications such as Time, Fast Company, Inc and many others. He is currently writing a book titled What Millennials Really Want, which will be published in 2019.

His knowledge of what Millennials really want will be a great asset to the show, notes Newmeyer. “As a guest host, Yuri will be spotlighting brands and concepts that Millennials care about,” he said. “And like all of the SponsorMagic segments, they will be presented in an entertaining way that is fun and engaging for everyone.”

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About The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour

The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour is a classic variety show updated for today. Its star-studded family entertainment is designed to bring the generations together. The program features big-name musical guests, sketch comedy, spectacular dancing numbers, stand-up, and games and giveaways that appeal to the Boomer and Millennial demographics.

It is also the first television show to completely integrate branded entertainment into the programming to replace TV advertising. Brands can connect with TV viewers in more relevant, meaningful ways through sketches, songs, product placement, demos and other storytelling techniques. For more information on promoting your brand on The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour, contact John Gregory Olson at 888-328-3830.

Image by Ben O’Bro

Music industry leader Joel Diamond joins production team

Music industry leader Joel Diamond joins production team

LOS ANGELES – Variety Entertainment Group (VEG) announced that veteran music producer and publisher Joel Diamond has joined the executive production team for the Stu and Laurie Variety Hour. Diamond is President and CEO of Silver Blue Productions, Ltd., a music publishing firm that also does record production, and talent management.

He will take the lead in bringing music acts to the show and provide talent management services to new acts that are introduced on the Stu and Laurie Variety Hour.

“We are extremely excited to have Joel on our team,” said Stu Newmeyer, VEG President and Executive Producer of the Stu and Laurie Variety Hour. “His decades of music industry experience and accomplishments in integrating music acts with movies and television will be a tremendous addition to the show.”

Diamond is a two-time Grammy nominated music producer with 54 Billboard charted recordings and 36 gold and platinum recordings to his credit. Over the course of his career he headed up music publishing companies for Mercury Records, Sony Music, and Warner Brothers.

Joel Diamond

He has worked with some of the biggest names in pop, rock and R&B music, such as Gloria Gaynor, Tommy James & The Shondells, Van Morrison, Frankie Valli, Engelbert Humperdink, Sister Sledge, Jay Z, Laura Branigan, Johnny Mathis, The Bee Gees, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, Gladys Knight, and many others.

Diamond is also credited with producing music for the films Raging Bull, Gillian on her 37th Birthday, Continental Divide, and others.

With more than three decades of music industry experience, Diamond has established relationships with people at every level of the business: songwriters, producers, managers, studio owners, and record company heads. He was influential in advancing the careers of industry leaders David Geffen and Tommy Motolla.

Watch this interview with Joel Diamond talking about the integration of music with the movie and television business.

About the Stu and Laurie Variety Hour

The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour is a classic variety show updated for today. Its star-studded family entertainment is designed to bring the generations together. The program features big-name musical guests, sketch comedy, spectacular dancing numbers, stand-up, and games and giveaways that appeal to the Boomer and Millennial demographics.

It is also the first television show to completely integrate branded entertainment into the programming to replace TV advertising. Brands can connect with TV viewers in more relevant, meaningful ways through sketches, songs, product placement, demos and other storytelling techniques. For more information on promoting your brand on the Stu and Laurie Variety Hour, contact John Gregory Olson at 888-328-3830.

Photo: Adi Goldstein

 

Family variety show adds Radio City pizazz

Family variety show adds Radio City pizazz

LOS ANGELES – The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour has added a new member to its stellar production team for the program, which is coming soon to Pop TV.

“We are excited to announce that Barbara VanZandt is coming out of retirement to bring a touch of Radio City pizazz to our show,” said Stu Newmeyer, cohost and executive producer of the Stu and Laurie Variety Hour. “She is joining our executive production team as costume wardrobe supervisor.”

VanZandt was the wardrobe supervisor for the Rockettes and other Radio City Music Hall productions for more than 30 years. Her credits include wardrobe supervision for major Rockettes productions like the Christmas Spectacular, the Easter Spectacular, and the Summer Spectacular, which featured more than 100 performers and hundreds of performances. She also traveled with the Rockettes on tour across the U.S. and overseas.

In addition to working with the Rockettes, VanZandt served as wardrobe supervisor for more than 100 concert performers at Radio City Music Hall, including Frank Sinatra, Bette Midler, Elton John and Lady Gaga.

She also worked for Disney Theatrical Ventures as the production wardrobe supervisor for all of its Broadway stage shows, including Beauty and the Beast and Aida. From 1978-1982 she was personal dresser to Diana Ross.

“I retired in 2013, but I missed being part of the entertainment business,” said VanZandt. “Joining the Stu and Laurie Variety Hour was just too great an opportunity to pass up.”

Barbara VanZandt is the most recent entertainment pro to join the production team, but several other show biz luminaries are already on board:

Ron Dunn, Director

Ron Dunn has 30 years of experience in film and television production. He has won acclaim for his work in television music specials, variety shows, pageants, and award shows. Some of his credits include ABC-TV’s Make a Wish, The Night Stalker, The Onion Field, and the Miss Junior America Pageant. He has directed some of the biggest stars in Hollywood such as Meryl Streep, Jack Nicolson, Jodie Foster, Robert Redford, Goldie Hawn, and many others.

Walter Painter, Choreographer

Walter Painter is a three-time Emmy Award winner for his work on television, which includes the Academy Awards, the Tony Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, the American Music Awards, and television specials for Nell Carter and Lili Tomlin. He has also staged Las Vegas shows for Ann-Margret, Julio Iglesias, Englebert Humperdink, and Sheena Easton.

Ed Scharlach, Head Writer

Ed Scharlach leads a team of eight award-winning television script writers, who have accrued Emmy, Mark Twain, Annie (for animation) awards and a Writer’s Guild Award nomination. The writing team has a long list of script credits for successful, long-running television shows like The Dean Martin Show, Mork and Mindy, Love, American Style, The Odd Couple, Happy Days, and many more.

Johnny Harris, Music Director

Johnny Harris is the director and arranger of the full studio orchestra for the Stu and Laurie Variety Hour. Over the course of his music career he has been a recording artist, composer, arranger, producer, orchestra leader and music director. He was music director for Tom Jones’ electrifying live performances in the 1970s. He has also worked with Paul Anka, Petula Clark, the Beatles, Shirley Bassey, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Barbara Streisand and many others.

George Johnsen, Visual Effects Director

George Johnsen is CEO of MammothVision, Inc. an audio/visual production company that specializes in unique video productions for live events, film special effects and themed entertainment. He brings 3D animation and award-winning stereoscopic technologies to the production of the show. He has done ground breaking video work for Disneyland, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures, MGM, CBS, ABC, and many other clients seeking to create high-end visual experiences.

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About the Stu and Laurie Variety Hour

The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour is a classic variety show updated for today. Its star-studded family entertainment is designed to bring the generations together. The program features big-name musical guests, sketch comedy, spectacular dancing numbers, stand-up, and games and giveaways that appeal to the Boomer and Millennial demographics. It is also the first television show to completely integrate branded entertainment into the programming to replace TV advertising. Brands can connect with TV viewers in more relevant, meaningful ways through sketches, songs, product placement, demos and other storytelling techniques. For more information on promoting your brand on the Stu and Laurie Variety Hour, contact John Gregory Olson at 888-328-3830.

Image by Luca Bravo

A bold move to displace TV advertising

A bold move to displace TV advertising

Media is migrating to digital platforms, and that is a problem for traditional advertisers.

It’s no surprise that people hate the clutter, the hype, and the interruption of advertising. But what has surprised advertisers is the extent to which they will go to block, skip, and avoid them. Digital media has given them more ways to do that.

In the process, it has set a new standard for advertising aversion that affects all media, including television.

People can now skip over commercials in recorded programs on their DVRs. They can enjoy commercial-free programs on subscriptions services like Netflix, HBO, Amazon, and Hulu. Broadcasters and advertisers are feeling the pain.

And brand marketers are facing a dilemma: How do you connect with people who resent the intrusiveness of TV ads, who don’t trust ads, and who actively avoid them?

Some television executives are hoping to find the answer in another trend from the digital media world: sponsored content.

NBC has been the first to dip its toe in the water. In the past year it has featured extended program segments on The Voice, Blindspot, The Today Show and Late Night with Seth Meyers all sponsored by American Express. It is part of a strategy to win back viewers with fewer commercials.

“We see a great challenge, but also a great opportunity to reinvent what the advertising experience can look like in different shows and in different environments,” said Alison Tarrant, EVP for client partnerships at NBCUniversal.

This season Saturday Night Live is part of the NBC sponsored content experiment. It has cut its advertising load 30 percent and offered to partner with advertisers to fill some of the extra time with original branded content. It will be a gradual shift that will happen six times throughout the year on SNL.

Gradual is the operative word for networks flirting with sponsored content. All of these programs will continue to run commercials. Advertisers and TV programmers will have to be more innovative. Instead of reinventing the “advertising experience” they need to reinvent the viewer experience.

Innovative branding meets innovative programming

Stu Newmeyer has a big idea that could blow the lid off of the concept of TV sponsored content. He is president of Variety Entertainment Group, the production company for The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour, which debuts this summer on Pop TV. The program is a family-friendly classic variety show updated for today. And it is perfectly suited for sponsored content.

In fact, the show will have no commercials at all.

Instead it will feature sponsored segments Newmeyer calls SponsorMagic. “Viewers will stay engaged with the sponsor’s message because it is integrated into the show’s entertainment,” he said. “Brand messages take the form of songs, comedy sketches, parodies and other programming that doesn’t interrupt viewers with a commercial.”

Newmeyer believes SponsorMagic is the future of brand-building on TV. Not only will brands be able to associate themselves with the good feelings audiences get from the program, but they will have fresh messaging in each segment of each show, he says. Plus, brands will not have to bear the cost of producing commercials, which can cost more than $300,000 for a 30-second spot.

Viewers will stay engaged with the sponsor’s message because it is integrated into the show’s entertainment.

SponsorMagic partners will also have the opportunity for reach well beyond the broadcast segments. They can reach the show’s audience through cobranding on its website and social media channels, as well as national promotions and non-theatrical screenings.

Brand marketers will also be able to cobrand on the show’s website and social media channels, as well as national PR promotions and non-theatrical screenings. Newmeyer’s vision for sponsored content on TV could revolutionize how brands connect with viewers. TV advertising doesn’t work like it once did. Interrupting people to get their attention only creates negative brand sentiment.

But quality engagement will earn their favor and trust.

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About the Stu and Laurie Variety Hour

The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour is a classic variety show updated for today. Its star-studded family entertainment is designed to bring the generations together. The program features big-name musical guests, sketch comedy, spectacular dancing numbers, stand-up, and games and giveaways that appeal to the Boomer and Millennial demographics. It is also the first television show to completely integrate branded entertainment into the programming to replace TV advertising. Brands can connect with TV viewers in more relevant, meaningful ways through sketches, songs, product placement, demos and other storytelling techniques. For more information on promoting your brand on The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour, contact John Gregory Olson at 888-328-3830.

Photo by Amos Bar-Zeev