NBCUniversal’s Access Hollywood is preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary and first on its list is building an ultra-modern new set that can service both entertainment magazine Access Hollywood and daytime spin-off Access Hollywood Live.
The new set will be unveiled July 6, but Access Hollywood gave B&C an exclusive sneak peak of what it’s building on the Universal lot in Burbank, Calif.
“The new set reflects the consistency of this brand. It’s slick, it’s modern, it’s warm.” says Rob Silverstein, executive producer, Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live.
Creating the new set presented a bit of a challenge because the show was moved into a smaller space at Universal, while having to give the two separate shows a unique feel.
“I had a design professor in school who said that the best design comes from clients who have a lot of constraints,” said James Welby, art director for both shows. “If you have a client who has unlimited resources and no idea of what they want, you have no idea what you are doing.”
So Welby made the absolute most of what he had, turning constraints into guidelines.
“We started with the idea of being able to use the set in 360,” he said. “We wanted the ceiling and the floors to be as much as an element as the walls.”
Welby began by creating lots of sliding panels that allows the crew to rearrange the set on the fly. The set is lined with high-resolution Christie 16x9 vertical monitors that allow anchors Billy Bush and Kit Hoover be wherever they want to be and still have screens behind them.
Welby also is using tricks with lighting and perspective to make the set feel bigger than it is, and to create different feels for each show. For example, Access Hollywood Live mostly airs in the daytime, so that show requires different lighting than Access Hollywood, which mostly airs in the evening.
“The design directive that we were given is that the shows should feel different and appropriate for their time slots,” says Welby.
The new set also needed to be “very social media friendly as we continuing adding that to the show without forcing it down people’s throats,” said Silverstein. “We’ve struck a nice balance between moving the show forward with social media but doing it in a way that’s not off-putting.”
The show is sticking with its signature blue and gold colors, with a touch of orange and red — signifying the glamour of the red carpet where Access Hollywood so often finds itself — but it’s also remaking its graphics and branding packages, to be debuted at a later date.