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Two weeks ago, as the United States continued to fight the impact of the global spread of the coronavirus, Disney executive chairman and former former CEO Bob Iger noticed a trend of people relying on the music of their favorite Disney classics while they were in quarantine.
According to Rob Mills, senior vice president at ABC Entertainment, it was Iger’s idea to air a musical-themed Disney special. After collaborating with outside producers, the company offered an hour Thursday evening Disney Family Singalong special with more than 16 performances by beloved singers and artists.
“Bob Iger had celebrities and non-celebrities who published Disney songs on their social pages and I think you kind of saw the thread that the Disney songbook was there for us in the good guys and bad times, “Mills told BuzzFeed News. “It was a way for people to turn to Disney for some comfort.”
Among the starred performers, Ariana Grande sang “I will not say that I am in love” with Hercules, Josh Groban performing “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” by Toy story, Christina Aguilera singing “Can you feel love tonight” by The Lion King, “A dream is a wish that your heart makes” sung by Demi Lovato and Michael Bublé. Actors of Musical high school, including Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale and Corbin Bleu also came together for a performance “We are all in the same boat”.
Talents were all excited to join the special, which was moderated by Ryan Seacrest and included PSAs on Feeding America to help raise awareness and funds to help those affected by the COVID crisis -19 because they had time and wanted to bring people home a little joy. Mills also said that Iger had personally contacted Beyonce and asked her to participate.
“She sent something and it was absolutely beautiful. Beyoncé singing “When you want a star” was in the total mind not only of the specialty, but also of what the country is right now, and it was something she alone could do, “said Mills .
Beyoncé’s performance was a surprise to viewers who tuned in on Thursday, unlike the other artists announced in advance. Mills said she had sent her recording “as soon as possible” Wednesday afternoon with only a few hours to complete the edition of the final cup. Executive producer Katie Mullan told BuzzFeed News that she delivered the final version of the special on Thursday morning after only two hours of sleep in two hours, going through every hour of the night.
“We were working in such a short time. Normally, we take six to three months to prepare a big stage full of talent like this, and the idea of doing it in less than two weeks was bananas, “said Mullan. “People had toured with celebrities from home, but it was still at this point that it was a bit like it was a brave new production world.”
Mullan said there were people across the United States working virtually on the production team, dropping professional equipment at the talent front doors and working to produce, direct and troubleshoot performance on Zoom. They reserved all the talent in four days, shot all the performances in three days and spent the rest of their time in a virtual editing suite to get the final product.
“We had to find a way to tell them about everything from a distance. Lots of celebrities were tech savvy, and in other cases, a lot of people were talking about exactly how to get the camera, take test shots, rework it and cross your fingers and toes, what would be nice when he came back, ”said Mullan. “There was a bit of a learning curve and a few technical problems at the start, but within 24 hours, we really figured out where the problems were and we just refined it from there.”
During the special, the lyrics of each song also appeared on the screen, allowing viewers to sing at home and participate in “giant karaoke for America of Disney music,” as Dancing with the stars dancer and choreographer Derek Hough said it.
When the producers contacted Hough just over a week ago to see if he and his girlfriend Hayley Erbert wanted to perform in the Disney Family Singalong, he jumped at the chance to bring people fun and entertainment while they were in quarantine.
“It was an excuse for us to do something fun in the house and it’s just great to be part of something where we are always artists. We’re just trying to bring joy and make a face smile, “Hough told BuzzFeed News.
Hough says producers asked him to play iconic The beauty and the Beast “Be our guest. With a tight schedule and fast turnaround time, Hough and Erbert nailed down their costume ideas, improvised most of their choreography, and shot their performance in one day on Hough’s GoPro.
“It’s just the two of us moving the camera and we have no plans,” he said. “With the choreography, we were just running around the house doing damage and wondering,” Okay, what should we do next? “”
Hough was able to face his sister, dancer and singer-songwriter Julianne Hough, in their performance, installing it on an iPad, so it seemed like she was dancing next to him and Erbert in their house. He said he then edited the footage together before sending it back to the producers.
“It is designed to spread a little joy and a little magic in people’s homes during this time,” he said. “At least for me during this time it’s about being entertained, staying positive, trying to have a good time and being creative, but also raising funds and educating people who are really in trouble.”
At a time when so many aspects of people’s lives are uncertain, Hough said Disney Family Singalong and studio movies in general can give people a sense of comfort.
“I think we watched 20 Disney movies during this quarantine,” he said. “Disney movies and music make people feel nostalgic, familiar, and fuzzy, warm feelings that you associate with music. When you hear music or watch one of the movies, it’s like a warm blanket. “
Mills echoed Hough’s sentiment, saying that now that people are spending more time together at home, Disney Family Singalong would hopefully be a unifying element of entertainment that people can connect with.
“People are together with families in a way that they haven’t been in a long time because we are sort of forced to go home and people are spending this time together even from a distance now through things like Zoom or whatever, ”he said. “So it was important to put something that made it look like everyone could come together and that is something that is universal. “
Mullan said the singalong special was also inspired by viral videos of people in Italy singing from their balconies who illustrated “a time when even if we are all isolated and we cannot be together physically, we all feel connected ”.
“This is what we hope it will do. People can reunite with their families in their homes, escape what is happening in the rest of the world for an hour, and feel not only the friendliness within this household, but the solidarity across America, ”said she said. . “We are all linked by the shared love of singing the shared love of this music.