Beverly Hills, Calif. — Neil Patrick Harris loves variety, but with America’s Got Talent and other variety shows, he didn’t think there was room for another. Then he saw footage of Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.
Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, the multi-talented performer’s one-hour live variety show debuting Sept. 15 on NBC, is an adaptation of Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, the long-running British ITV variety program.
“I’m interested in the notion that I can show people cool, interesting things that are clever that you can set the remote down and watch,” Harris said Thursday at the show’s TCA summer press tour panel. “You’ll get to see a bunch of cool shit, and it will be live.”
Although Harris said his team is “holding a lot of cards close to our vest” to ensure spontaneity on the live broadcast, the show could include magic, competition stunts and a big segment at the end of each show. There will also be a bit called Sing-Along Live, in which a musical celebrity sings and they try to get people at home to sing along. Harris said that Ricky Martin will perform “Livin’ La Vida Loca” on the show.
“The audience is a participant within the show,” Harris said. “I’m not the host of this show to perform for an audience. I’m sort of the host of the show to show you as an audience the cool things that we’re doing.”
Harris is executive producing the show with Siobhan Greene, the director of entertainment at the UK’s ITV Studios who has been with Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway since the beginning. Harris referred to her as the show’s “bible.” While Green’s experience should ease any worries Harris might have about doing a live show each week, Greene seems alright with live miscues. “When things do go wrong, I think the audience loves it,” she said.
Creativity and authenticity are the two most important things to Harris in a live setting. “Authenticity tends to be not always real in reality TV,” he said.
Of course, the host matters a great deal too. “You’ve got to have someone who’s very very special at the heart of the show,” Greene said.
Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris is only running eight weeks, Harris said, because it deserves to be an event, not a regular thing. “It’s important to me to do it as a chunk and step back,” he said, adding that he signed up to do the show yearly, so audiences could see season 2 next fall if all goes well.
“It's going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen,” Greene said. “You want to leave (viewers) wanting more. They’re gonna be gagging for more at the end.”