I’ve always wanted to attend a taping of a show. So, when my editor asked me to attend a taping of “Harry,” I immediately agreed. This was my chance to see a show taping and it’s star, Harry Connick Jr.! I was curious about how a one-hour daytime show was created: What really happens behind-the-scenes? Is the environment chaotic? Is it as glamorous as it looks on TV? How’s his staff? And more importantly, is Connick a nice guy?
When I arrived at the studio, one of Connick’s friendly staff members ushered me to my seat, zipping me past crowds of people and through a shortcut bypassing technological equipment that opened up onto the set. The set is reminiscent of a swanky NYC lounge—modern and sleek with a stage area for the band and white couches with a city skyline in the background.
“Harry” debuted this past September, and is hosted and executive produced by Harry Connick Jr., the multi-talented, award-winning artist. “Harry” feels like a party: nonstop live music by a ten-piece band—Connick tickling the ivories every chance he gets—with conversations with old “friends” and variety segments (I saw audience members play musical chairs!) weaved in periodically.
While we waited for the party to start, a staff member went over the ground rules, when the episode will air, how many segments Connick was taping today (without revealing guest information), and when to sit, stand, clap, and which monitor to look at to watch a snippet of the guest’s work. The staff member also “warmed us up” to ensure that we’re in a good mood, engaged, laughing, and enthusiastic for the show.
Several moments later, Connick’s band started jammin’, which they did throughout the taping. They did several call-and-responses with the audience, and a few band members left the stage area to play directly in front of us. Some even did the two-step with a couple of lucky spectators!
Then Connick emerged from behind the set. The crowd went wild, no prompting necessary! Connick is definitely not your typical daytime show host. He’s an accomplished pianist, singer, songwriter, and an actor. His ability to entertain across a multitude of platforms combined with his southern charm and ability to connect with all walks of life were on full display.
From the moment he stepped on the set, you could just tell Connick was in his element and that he’s authentic. He’s the same when the cameras are rolling and when they’re off. When Connick wasn’t interviewing a celebrity or doing another segment of the show, he was answering impromptu questions from the audience, playing the piano, joking around with his band, and spontaneously sharing personal stories with the audience. At times I forgot that I was even at a show taping.
Connick is certainly a ball of energy. In addition to the other taped segments, he interviewed six guests: Patricia Heaton, Meredith Hagner, Miss Piggy, Meathead Goldwyn, Lee Daniels, and Tim Tebow. These interviews felt more like conversations between two friends. Connick was genuinely curious about each guest’s life, family, and their projects. He did a superb job of asking questions that elicited responses that fused together personal stories with professional projects, creating a sense of depth in a short amount of time.
The highlight of the taping was when Connick and Miss Piggy—who was dressed in her finest evening wear—treated us to a wonderful performance of “Deck The Halls.” Towards the end of the performance, we sang along with them!
Other than starting the tapping a bit late, I was very impressed with the show’s organization, the staff’s friendliness, and how smoothly the taping ran; there were a couple of minor hiccups that were cured quickly by the team making speedy adjustments.
At the end of the taping, some audience members went on the stage to “Back It Up” with Connick. While we were “backing it up,” Connick shook everyone’s hands, marking the end of the taping.
Later, I met Connick backstage and took a picture with him! The experience was a dream come true!
To learn more about the “Harry” show, where to watch it, and for ticket information, visit harrytv.com. To learn more about Harry Connick, Jr., visit harryconnickjr.com or pick up the January/February issues of New York Family on newsstands January 13.