“It was so much more than a carpool,” reflects producer/director Ben Winston about the TV special where James Corden drove the iconic Paul McCartney around Liverpool last summer. In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), he adds, “We were taking Paul back to Liverpool. I wanted it to feel like the audience was coming on a journey with Paul and James. Carpools can only last 15 minutes, but this was an hour special. As a director you couldn’t look at it as a carpool anymore.”
Winston directed the special, which was a spin-off from “Late Late Show with James Corden”’s popular segment “Carpool Karaoke.” The segment has already spawned an Apple series and other prime-time specials. This year Winston is the most nominated individual at the Emmy Awards. He has eight nominations for his work on “The Late Late Show,” “When Corden Met McCartney,” “Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special” and the “Grammy Awards.”
For all his work in television it is the McCartney special that the producer is most proud. He reflects, “After filming I had to stay for another day. I found myself on my own in this tiny curry house in Liverpool. I had to wait for my train and was on my own for a couple of hours. All of this stuff was going through my head. Paul in his house, singing his hits, going back to the pub where he’d performed… I called my wife and said ‘I think that might be the best thing we’ve ever done. I think people will watch this for many years. I think we’ve made something really beautiful.’ And she went ‘oh that’s great, what time are you home tomorrow?’ I remember that moment. Because it’s where I thought it was all worth it. The hassle and flying and planning.”
As executive producer for Corden, Winston reveals “We never came out here to make a talk show. I feel like others do that brilliantly well, so we don’t need to do that. Every night we want to make a variety show. Whether that’s a rap battle, or a musical in a crosswalk, or a huge sketch or jumping out of a plane with Tom Cruise. We want to make a variety entertainment show every night where people tune in and don’t know what they are about to see. When we’ve just done a monologue, and a desk bit, chatted with a guest, played a bit of music we leave this office disappointed. We feel like we haven’t made the show we came out here to make.”
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