Don Mischer Q&A: ‘Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert’ producer
“Sometimes you can overproduce these things. Sometimes they can actually become too smooth,” admits legendary special events producer Don Mischer during our recent webchat (watch above). The longtime producer and director of Emmy and Oscar ceremonies adds, “I love the feeling of a live show where there’s a little bit of a sense that the show has its own momentum, that the producers have lost a little bit of control of the show. It’s kind of running around and getting wild not having every shot perfect.” He and his team will return to produce the 2016 Emmy Awards hosted by Jimmy Kimmel this September.
Mischer has also produced or directed the annual “Kennedy Center Honors,” several Super Bowl halftime shows (including those of Prince, Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and Bruce Springsteen), and the opening ceremonies for several Olympics. In his four-decade career, he has won 15 Emmy Awards, 10 Directors Guild Awards, a Peabody Award, and a life achievement honor from the Producers Guild.
Mischer’s first Emmy Award came for directing the “Kennedy Center Honors.” Of that evening he recalls, “My first Emmy win was a long time ago. I think it was in 1981. It was just a joyous, wondrous experience. Those of us who grew up in television and made television our career the first Emmy win was very significant. I got my Emmy from Dinah Shore and Ella Fitzgerald (who) had trouble pronouncing my name.”
He is in contention at the Emmys this year for the variety special “5th Anniversary International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert.” It was hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and aired on ABC. He recalls, “We asked for things from the White House that had never been asked for before. We asked for three particular jazz numbers to be performed inside the White House in addition to a big tent out on the south lawn. We were also able to put a camera outside that allowed us to visually connect the White House itself to the tent in the backyard.”