New York (November 21, 2006)–Tonight’s TV special, Tony Bennett: An American Classic, may sport the performer’s name in the title, but its Neumann mics that are out in front–of Bennett, that is. The show features a host of singing stars, including Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Diana Krall, Michael Bublé and Barbra Streisand, in a rare TV guest appearance.
Tony Bennett, An American Classic.’ border=’1′> Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder, both using Neumann KMS 105 microphones recreate a scene from one of Bennett’s live Carnegie Hall appearances in Tony Bennett, An American Classic.Directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha and the upcoming Dreamgirls), the special tells the chronological story of Bennett’s long and storied career through a series of short movies, with narration by some of Hollywood’s top actors.
A series of filmed vignettes set in a 1940s jazz club, a Columbia Recording Studios session in the 1950s and a 1960s TV studio, plus live shows in Las Vegas, at Carnegie Hall and on MTV Unplugged, featured one Neumann microphone after another. The Neumann U 47, KMS 85, KMS 105, and Bennett’s preferred live performance mic, a Sennheiser SKM 5000 wireless handheld with a Neumann KK 105 capsule, all make appearances during the one-hour special.
Tom Young, Bennett’s live sound engineer for many years, was in charge of production audio and also worked as an audio supervisor on the shoot, which took place in the L.A. Theater in downtown Los Angeles. “From an audio standpoint, we needed good quality working microphones that could be used to record the vocals live,” said Young. “Marshall had a clear vision of certain microphones he wanted to see for various period shots. When the director and head prop master, Kirk Corwin, presented me pictures of the period microphones they preferred, Neumann was represented for most of the scenes.”
Young continued, “Originally, Neumann KM 53 and KM 66 mics were chosen for the 1960s period. However, once viewed on camera, the director chose to stay with the look of the Neumann 105. I contacted Joe Ciaudelli at Sennheiser, who was a great asset in providing support to procure various microphones on short notice. Sennheiser was also instrumental in providing wireless lavaliers that were used as back-ups to all the handheld microphones. Certain segments,” he adds, “included elaborate dance numbers with the featured performers, and Rob Marshall did not want to see any microphones in the shot.”
The special, which airs on NBC tonight at 8:00PM, was filmed in HD and mixed in 5.1 by Dae Bennett, who recorded the album tracks at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, London’s Abbey Road and Bennett Studios in Englewood, NJ earlier this year. Also assisting the recording and playback were Joe Sidoti and John Nave.
According to Young, the month-long shoot, which took place in July, was more of a moviemaking process than a television taping. “The attention to detail experienced on this project was a great lesson. It was a pleasure to sit in on our audio platform next to Dae Bennett for a month and watch some great TV being made. Working with a genius of the likes of Tony Bennett and Rob Marshall and all the performers involved was an experience I will never forget.”
Bennett, to whom Frank Sinatra referred as “the best singer in the business,” has made over 100 albums, selling 50 million copies and garnering 13 Grammy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.