When the Weeknd headlines the Tremendous Bowl halftime present on Sunday, the stage will probably be within the stands, not on the sector, to simplify the transition from recreation to efficiency. Within the days main as much as the occasion, staff have visited a tent exterior Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., to obtain nasal swabs for Covid-19 assessments. And although a smaller crew is placing on the present this 12 months, the lavatory trailers have been going by way of 3 times as a lot water as regular — due to all that hand-washing.
Amid a worldwide pandemic, the gargantuan logistical enterprise that’s the halftime present has gotten much more sophisticated.
In a typical 12 months, an enormous stage is rolled out in items onto the soccer subject, sound and lighting gear is swiftly arrange by lots of of stagehands working shoulder to shoulder, and followers stream onto the turf to observe the extravaganza. This 12 months, there’s a cap on how many individuals can take part within the manufacturing, dense crowds of cheering followers are out of the query. And solely about 1,050 individuals are anticipated to work to placed on the present, a fraction of the work drive in most years.
The pandemic has halted stay performances in a lot of the nation, and plenty of televised spectacles have resorted to pretaped segments to make sure the security of performers and audiences. The halftime present’s manufacturing staff, nonetheless, was intent on mounting a stay efficiency within the stadium that they hoped would wow tv audiences. To satisfy that dream, they would wish contingency plans, 1000’s of KN95 masks and a willingness to interrupt from a long time of halftime-show custom.
“It’s going to be a distinct wanting present, however it’s nonetheless going to be a stay present,” stated Jana Fleishman, an govt vp at Roc Nation, the leisure firm based by Jay-Z that was tapped by the N.F.L. in 2019 to create performances for marquee video games just like the Tremendous Bowl. “It’s a complete new method of doing all the things.”
One of many first logistical puzzles was determining the best way to choose employees members up from the airport and transport them to and from the lodge, stated Dave Meyers, the present’s govt answerable for manufacturing and the chief working officer at Diversified Manufacturing Providers, an occasion manufacturing firm based mostly in New Jersey that’s engaged on the halftime present.
“Often you pack everybody right into a van, throw the baggage into the again, everyone seems to be sitting on one another’s laps,” Meyers stated. “That may’t occur.”
As an alternative, they rented greater than 300 vehicles to move everybody safely.
Lots of the firm’s staff have been in Tampa for weeks, working out of what they name a “compound” exterior of Raymond James Stadium, the house of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The compound contains 50-foot-long workplace trailers, which used to suit about 20 staff every however now are restricted to 6. There are socially distant eating tents the place folks eat prepackaged meals, and a sign for which tables have been sanitized: those with chairs tilted towards them.
Outdoors the perimeter of the occasion, there’s a tent the place halftime-show staff have been getting Covid-19 assessments. Employees members have been getting examined each 48 hours, however now that recreation day is shut, key staff, together with those that are in proximity to the performers, are getting examined daily, Meyers stated. Every day, staff fill out a well being screening on their smartphones, and in the event that they’re cleared, they get a color-coded wristband, with a brand new coloration every day so nobody can put on yesterday’s undetected.
Every time staff enter the stadium or a brand new space of the grounds, they scan a credential that hangs from round their necks in order that within the occasion that somebody assessments optimistic for Covid-19 or wants to enter quarantine, the N.F.L. will know who else was of their neighborhood. And there are contingency plans if staff should quarantine: essential staff, together with Meyers, have understudies who stand able to take their locations.
All of these measures are taken in order that the Weeknd can step out onstage Sunday for a 12-minute act that goals to rival years previous, when the nation was not within the midst of a worldwide well being disaster.
“Our greatest problem is to make this present seem like it’s not affected by Covid,” Meyers stated.
The problem was obvious on Thursday at a information convention concerning the halftime present. When the Weeknd strode to the microphone, he took within the room and famous, “It’s form of empty.” His phrases have been maybe a preview of how the stadium may look to folks watching from house. (About 25,000 followers will probably be current — slightly greater than a 3rd of its capability — and they are going to be joined by 1000’s of cardboard cutouts.)
However the Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye), a 30-year-old Canadian pop star who has hits together with “Can’t Really feel My Face” and “Starboy,” is understood for his theatrical aptitude. His work usually has a brooding really feel, an avant-garde edge, and even some blood and gore (he promised he would preserve the halftime present “PG”).
This would be the second Tremendous Bowl halftime present produced partly by Jay-Z and Roc Nation, who have been recruited by the N.F.L. at a time when performers have been refusing to work with the league, in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the previous San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started kneeling through the nationwide anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice.
The N.F.L. and Roc Nation are conserving quiet concerning the particulars of this system to construct anticipation, so it’s unclear whether or not it should have the standard big-budget results of halftime reveals previous, which have featured Jennifer Lopez dancing on a large revolving pole, Katy Perry driving an animatronic lion and Diana Ross memorably exiting by helicopter.
What is evident is that there’s unlikely to be something just like the intimate second Woman Gaga had with just a few of her followers throughout her 2017 efficiency, when she clasped their fingers and embraced one in all them earlier than going again onstage for “Unhealthy Romance.” The Weeknd is taking the stage in a way more distanced world.
Ken Belson contributed reporting.