Emmy Nominated Casey Patterson Talks Lip Sync Battle and securing music for the Michael Jackson special.
Casey Patterson, who recently received her fourth Emmy nomination as the Executive Producer of Paramount Network’s global multiplatform hit Lip Sync Battle. I caught up with Patterson to talk about the driving factors that make this show globally viral and the talent she secures.
Read our chat below. Lip Sync Battle is nominated for “Best Structured Reality Program.
How did you know that this segment from Jimmy Fallon would be the segment to go viral and become what it is today?
When we picked it up, it had only been done on Jimmy once. It had been done with John Krasinski and you could see that it was an incredibly entertaining segment. We have incredible partners- John Krasinski and Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Merchant are so funny. They have such strong comedic sensibility. It’s in their tone, it’s all ridiculous and over the top and only for fun and it doesn’t take itself so seriously. There are no stakes at all. There are no prizes, no prize money, and no points. It’s purely for bragging rights and a talent belt that we came up with. It’s beautiful that the talent takes it so seriously because they know how much the fans love it.
I have a philosophy and all of my partners feel the same way. Fans tend to react to effort. The talent is really going for it. These are actors who don’t sing and dance for a living. They are dressing up, wearing wardrobe, swinging around on wrecking balls. Channing Tatum did Beyonce, using her choreography. He used her glam team and at the last minute found out she was coming out, but she wouldn’t meet him prior to that. I think the fans appreciate how far these guys are willing to go to entertain and what’s really refreshing about this show is they never plug anything. They’re there purely for entertainment. It’s a pure exchange between fans and the celebrities they love. The celebrities come on because they love coming on to entertain. They know it will go viral. It’s a chance to celebrate the artist and the music that they love. The fans love hearing the music they choose. It’s very eclectic where you can have Janis Joplin and Nicki Minaj in the same show. It’s another nuance of the show that they’re getting to know, “I would never have thought that Emily Blunt could rap.” She did No Diggity and those unexpected choices coming from the talent is very unexpected for the fans to see. It’s a win-win situation having popular you love, having the celebrities celebrate the musicians they love and be rockstars for the day, it’s globally very appealing. We’re in 170 countries and it has a globally universal team.
Lip syncing used to be a bad word for artists. The artist you hear have to clear it personally so every Beyonce or Taylor Swift you hear, they have embraced us. They understand at its core is a tribute show where fans can come and see it. Music is so universal and there’s a really interesting dichotomy happening. It’s classic as old-school variety gets. It’s very dressed down on the set. It’s old-fashioned variety. It’s Broadway changeover sets. It’s very modern in the sense it’s produced two minutes at a time in the sense that it can travel and ultimately be very shareable around the world.
Talk about the Michael Jackson tribute. Iconic. Getting the clearance and how everyone got their songs.
I’m such a fan of his music. My partners and I discuss all the time that there is no other Micahel Jackson. He raised the bar so that Beyonce’s of the world can exist and they are the first to say it. He is a performer and a perfectionist. No one was doing a stage show for the fans before Michael. The way he could stand still for four minutes and have the crowd swell to the point of mania before he could even move, he’s so theatrical and the definition of it. When we heard we would be the launch of the Paramount Network, we discussed what would be the pinnacle and we all knew it was Michael.
They had never really lent their name to a special or the music. We carefully approached his estate and they were really open and modern in their thinking and happy to have the music shared in a different way that it would go viral. It’s celebrities paying tribute to him.
I think our streams are at 1.5 billion cross-platform globally. From the estate’s point of view, it’s looking at new and different ways to share Michael’s music as far and as wide as they possibly can. We had such a wonderful working relationship with them.
If you think about him, he was such a perfectionist and so groundbreaking. They trust you would have to have to hand over his legacy to a show like ours, we were so honored that they would work with us in that way. We were turning talent away for this one. He is one of the most requested artists on the show. The idea we could do a whole show and make it special, everyone was really excited about that. As we were live, we wanted to go to people who could handle the Dolby Theatre and that performance live. We were fortunate that Taraji, Laverne and Neil. Neil we know from The Tonys and a million other things he’s done. What was so excited for our fans to see was that they’ve seen him as a song and dance man, but they’ve never seen him move that far outside his comfort zone and go into the pop realm.
Smooth Criminal is such a specific, beloved performance and music video. As always, Neil is unbelievably professional and he crushed it.
When he did that lean forward.
We were all cheering in the truck.
Moving to the main show, you have Fifth Harmony doing Moana. How long does something like that take to put together?
Dwayne Johnson and I are producing partners and friends. He sent me a text saying, “Dinah Jane is going to play me and we have this big idea that she’s going to play me.” There was no pressure. He was producing that from afar. They’re friends and the two of them talked about what could be really funny. She has a Hawaiian family, but it was a nice nod to that. It was so vibrant. It was important to us that we brought in authentic dancers and we even had fire.
She’s my hero and she wanted to be funny, not pretty. She wanted to be in that muscle suit.
Who are you dying to have on the show?
It shifts all the time. I’d love to see Michelle Obama and Oprah. That’s my dream battle. Another one I’m obsessed with is Ben and Matt. I would love to see a Matt and Ben battle. They’re so funny and game. It’s always fun to see friends because if you’re friends, you’ll go a little further than you would if it’s a co-star. When you’re so close, the gloves are off.
The talent chooses their artists. Who would you like to see them perform to?
I can’t say because I really want them to do it. I have an idea for Matt to surprise Ben but I can’t say because I really believe it will happen one day.