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“That’s the story we’re trying to tell: how those eras of music still are influencing today’s fashions,” Kroeze says.
But they know better than to try to control the performers’ attire. “If Fergie wants to wear a certain designer I’m not going to have much luck changing her mind,” Beckman concedes. Instead, personal stylists help artists create their signature looks. So how do they coordinate to make sure nobody wears the same color or designer?
“They kind of don’t, and it’s kind of shocking that it always works out well,” says costume designer Paula Elins, who will rely on “power shopping” at cheap-chic stores like H&M to dress dancers for the Motown medley and Fergie’s performance. “We definitely don’t want to go back to the past and rent clothes.”
Elins plans on incorporating some Eighties flavor into the show with still-popular leggings and tights. “You look at everything in rehearsals so if it was a disaster you would have one day to fix it. You always have to have an option because you never know what the talent’s going to feel like at the last minute,” he says.
Lor-e Phillips, stylist for the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.i.am, only slightly exaggerating, says, “He doesn’t know what he’s going to wear until he steps out on the stage!” Music director Steve Jordan, who received an Emmy nomination for Movies Rock, Beckman’s other televised special, would like to put in his wardrobe request early: Paul Smith suits. “That’s what I would love to do. We gotta look good, right?” But more importantly, Jordan wants to make sure they sound good, especially since this is the first time the show will use a house band.
Co-executive producer Don Mischer, also Emmy-nominated for his work on Movies Rock, knew he had to get a musical dream team together in order to convince artists to forgo using their own bands, which take a long time to set up and strike. And Jordan delivered, assembling bassist Willie Weeks, who has played with everybody from the Rolling Stones to Stevie Wonder; guitarist Ray Parker Jr., whose Motown experience will come in handy; keyboardist Clifford Carter, a James Taylor collaborator; “Saturday Night Live” co-musical directors Leon Pendarvis on keyboards and Lenny Pickett on bass, and their new guitar player Jared Scharff, who can help Fergie and Blondie rock out on a duet of “Call Me.”