Harry Connick Jr. spent the spring on a 30-city U.S. tour, playing shows, shooting segments and promos, and meeting with every station executive he could find.
It’s all in preparation for his new daytime entertainment show, Harry, produced by NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution and sold to the Fox Television Stations in the country’s top markets.
The show’s intent is to take what Connick Jr. does every night on stage and put it on TV in the afternoon. Fox is putting a lot of faith in the new program scheduling it at the key afternoon timeslot of 4 p.m. in many markets, including WNYW New York, where it’s also getting a midnight run.
“This is going to be a party show right in the middle of the afternoon,” said Connick Jr. in a Wednesday morning keynote session at PromaxBDA Station Summit in Las Vegas moderated by NBC Broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert. “It feels different than anything else in daytime, it feels fresh.”
Connick Jr. said he feels like his entire career, which took off like a rocket when he got the opportunity to create the soundtrack for When Harry Met Sally at just 19, has prepared him for Harry.
“This is the first time I’ve felt like I’ve been a part of something way bigger than me,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been very lucky to have the situations I’ve had. I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Although Connick Jr. is perhaps best known as a musical performer, he’s also starred on Broadway, in movies and on TV. He plans to bring skills and talents from all of these mediums to his new stage at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York this fall.
“When I started touring with my band it was back in 1990, and we would do a lot of stuff on stage. When I perform music, everything I do is unscripted. I don’t think about what I’m going to say to the audience. It feels very much like the show we’re about to do in September,” he said.
Connick Jr. is all about improvisation and constantly bringing the energy of delighted surprise to audiences. He instructs his producing team not to tell him what he’s about to encounter ahead of time because he wants the audience to experience his authentic reaction to whatever situation he’s in. That preference to always work from the vantage point of surprise is something Connick Jr. has drawn from his years of touring and live performances.
“If you tell me ‘this is what we’re going to do,’ I clam up. If you say ‘here’s a microphone, here’s 10,000 people, do what you want to do’ is when I get really excited. The idea of doing that 180 times a year is so thrilling to me. The executive producers are going to have an immense amount of structure on which I can improvise,” he said.
During the session, NBC showed some new promos it had shot for the show while Connick Jr. was on tour this spring. The spots mostly show him interacting with real people in towns such as Austin, Chicago and more.
“There’s a huge country out there,” Connick Jr. said. “There are a lot of people and those are the people I love to talk to. All of the things I’ve done thus far have led me to this point,” Connick Jr. said. “I want to do an unscripted, heartfelt show that celebrates everyday people.“
Harry premieres on TV stations across the country on Monday, Sept. 12.