Time for Miracles by Nico Wang
This is a a lovely and detailed behind-the-scenes recap of Adam's appearance on Tonight 80's Talk Show in Shanghai, China by the one of the directors, Nico Wang. The event was taped on September 29, 2012 and aired on October 7.
Time for Miracles
by Nico Wang 王童NICO
After this long prologue I'm getting to the topic. This is a behind-the-scenes revelation of working with a star and some thoughts I'd like to share with my friends.
Being a TV show director, I've worked with stars of many sizes and clout. As a result, my idol list has became quite short – less than five names are on it.
My attraction to Adam Lambert began when he appeared on American Idol Season 8. Ever since I was a child, when others were listening to the Four Heavenly Kings (popular male Chinese singers of the 90's), I was listening to Tang Dynasty and Black Panther (Chinese rock bands). I'm a hardcore rock-and-roll fan. I was completely satisfied and happy watching Adam Lambert on American Idol Season 8 because Adam would always rework the songs to suit his rock-and-roll attitude. Song after song, my ears experienced orgasm. After his performance I just couldn't bear to watch the other contestants. Episode after episode, I was sure he would be the winner. Then...
Nothing more to say about it now.
Anyway, I just like seductive, magical creatures like him. When I mean seductive and magical, I mean that he is not mundane; he owns up to his actions; he is not pretentious and not afraid to be treated unfairly. He is like, "This is what I am and you are free to react as you wish". This kind of attitude is very rare, especially among performing artists. But he is not one of those silly, angry young people who would hurt others to maintain their own ideology. From him, you don't see the frightening aggression. From a Buddhist viewpoint it's called "not fallen to either side": even while trying to maintain his own identity and pursue his goal, he would not harm others. As for the spirit of rock and roll, he is the very manifestation of it. If you think the spirit of rock and roll is rebellion, you are foolish! The spirit of rock and roll is LOVE! Without love, where does the wrath come from?
Around September 23, one of our directors, Xiaomie, heard that Adam would be coming to China and invited me to watch Adam perform in this program (she was directing) for another station. I was thrilled and full of anticipation. As my friend is the director, I would be able to watch the dress rehearsal too, which is much better than just watching the live feed.
On September 24, Xiaomie suddenly asked us if we wanted to invite Adam to our show. For this episode, we would shoot for four days, from the 24th to 28th, and he was due to arrive on the 28th! Just in time! I was pessimistic about the possibility. An international artist's schedule usually takes months to finalize, so barring a miracle, it was not going to happen. But I couldn't just say "it's impossible" and not give it a try. That's not our style. So try we did.
Xiaomie started firing off emails, connecting with Adam's Chinese contact and doing a significant amount of liaison work. We issued an introduction of the program; sent sample videos; issued proof of our program's viewership and influence – all communication in both Chinese and English. The beautiful hostess of ICS, Chen Xuan, had a wedding date drawing near and was neck-deep in preparations. Yet she helped us prepare the English materials late into the night despite her head-spinning wedding preparation; despite the fact that she herself could not secure a chance for a sit-down interview with Adam.
There were many ups and downs during the communication period. Yes? No! No? Yes! Xiaomie made countless phone calls each day to answer questions and resolve requests. There were also armies of friends helping, including many fans of Adam and some of my old friends. For various reasons, I cannot thank you all one by one, but I need you to know that we are very grateful for your help. Without you, all this would not have come to fruition! Thank you!
By the time we got confirmation of Adam's appearance, it was already September 27. It was looking like the miracle could happen! We had booked the sound stage until the 28th, but Adam was only available on Saturday the 29th! Saturdays are under a long-term lease by another show, so we faced the crisis of having no place to shoot. I called my colleague, who manages the sound stage scheduling, and oh my god! No one would be using it that day! I immediately extended my booking to the 29th and moved on to the planning. It was overwhelming. I needed to plan the protocol of the whole show, design and plan the staging for Adam's performance, and design the props – all within 36 hours! I had no time to go berserk. My brain was in overdrive for the whole day. By 11 pm on the 27th I had finished all the details. Don't ask me how I did it. By the time I typed the last period, I had already finished a glass of whiskey and more than half of a bottle of red wine. I think maybe some alcohol-loving deity helped me finish my task!
September 28 was a day of prop production frenzy. By noon of the 29th, all the props had been delivered. When I arrived at the studio at 3 pm, the stage was in a state of chaos. I met with the talk show host in the café outside of the studio during which Xiaomie sent me a text: "I can't wait for you to see the stage, so proud!"
At 6 pm the meeting was over and I stepped into the studio. I got a big surprise. It was not a set change but a stage change! It looked like a stage designed for Adam's Trespassing concert tour! As soon as I saw the stage, I thought: We've all gone mad!
A bit past 6 pm, I was in the host's dressing room going over the script with him. I heard a noisy commotion in the hallway outside. I stepped outside and there he was: Adam Lambert walking towards me! He gave me a big smile and waved. "Hi!" After all those days of intense work and preparation, he just appeared right in front of me without warning. I felt dizzy for a second, then immediately opened the door to his personal dressing room and said, "Please..."
He walked into the dressing room and saw the fruit platter the production team had prepared for him. He gave a happy shout and immediately picked up a piece of fruit and tossed it into his mouth. Then he went over to look at the stage and was very pleased. He smiled happily and said "Cool!"
The soundcheck took quite a while because he was very meticulous and wanted the best effect. After the rehearsal he walked by the band's dressing room and matter-of-factly leaned on the doorpost and studied the 10+ pieces of the band's stage wear. He asked them to take off the fussy and ornate jackets. He told us the t-shirts they wore were more rock and roll. Xiaomie and I made use of the interval when the audience was being seated to approach him for some photo opportunities. He chatted with us, asked us where we bought the discs, praised my pretty jacket, and naturally gathered us by the shoulders to his sides when the pictures were taken.
After the audience was seated, we shot the performance first. He sang twice and worked up a sweat. After he walked off the stage, he took his jacket off and asked the gofer for a bottle of water which cost the sum total of 2 yuan (USD 32¢). Many artists request specific brands of mineral water or beverages in their riders, but he was totally not inclined to do so. There were 10 minutes left before he had to go on stage again. During this time he just loitered in the hallway discussing issues with the next day's performance ( The Voice of China Finale) with his agent and the band. They talked until I came to fetch him to the stage. He put on his jacket, received the microphone, and with a smile, went on stage again.
You all saw what unfolded on stage. Our host, Mr Wang Zijian, after chatting with him for a bit, couldn't contain himself and exclaimed, "Why are you so nice? I like you!" Adam was extremely accommodating. He was the main star, yet he took care to pay attention to everyone on stage. Even if he didn't understand what was being said, he maintained an innocent smile. When Mr Wang kept declaring he wanted to sing a song, Adam immediately went over him to flip up his collar in a rock and roll style. The esteemed old-time Shanghai socialite Ms Tang Weihong was on stage, and the respect and consideration Adam paid to her (to the point of tentativeness) was very moving.
After the taping was over, Adam shook hands with every production team member he could see. He happily boarded the car wearing the Chinese jacket we gave him. We then returned to the studio to thank the fans. The fan who did us the biggest favor in this event kept saying, "thank you, thank you", even though she was tired to the bone. She then hugged Xiaomie and burst into tears.
I have never met a superstar so sincere and honestly down to earth. A few days after the taping, I was still submerged in this surreal sense. I re-watched Adam's American Idol videos, and experienced again his every words and expression. I suddenly realized that he has not changed. Before he became famous he was such a sincere and real person. After his explosion onto the scene and despite controversy, he is still the same man; nothing has changed, not even the tone of his speech. You would find it hard to believe that the person many people regard as an alien is at the core a tender, kind and considerate man. He is not just a performer, but a real rocker! This realization made me happy for quite a while, really.
That this event happened was a miracle from Adam's fans, because they helped the program production team secure the appearance of their idol. It is also a miracle to the producer Ye Feng. His team used five days to finish taping three artists for three different episodes, including Adam's performance from negotiation to perfect presentation. It's a miracle to our program director, Xiaomie, who did everything she could to finally see the one person she loved the most; and the whole team was proud of her. It's a miracle to our styling director Shi Jian who spent a whole night embellishing the Tang jacket that we gifted Adam: Adam wore it! And his other idol, William Chang Suk Ping (legendary film art director who's worked extensively with director Wong Kar Wai) approved of it. To our newbie's Xiaoyang, Xiaopan, Hairui, Hanchi and Lele, it's also a miracle. They created the bling-bling crystal mic stand for Adam. Xiaoyang was working overtime on her birthday. Lele stayed on stage to listened to Adam's requests for adjustment during soundcheck and relayed them back to the music director and program director. She eventually walked away with the towel Adam used to wipe his sweat. And our lighting engineer who added many more light units for Adam's set. And our sound engineer who reserved the best microphone for Adam...
To me personally, it's a big miracle. He's shown me what it's like to finally see with your own eyes someone you've loved for so long, to have personally interacted and produced a show for him, yet not be disappointed but love him even more – what a blissful feeling it can be. This experience has reminded me of my "nothing is impossible" younger self. Yes. Life is unpredictable. We won't know when we'll die or what will happen to us. We will encounter countless obstacles; have feelings of frustration and sadness. But that's no reason to be complacent, to conform or to stop reaching our goals and simply while away our time. It's also not a reason to be angry or envious, and treat people with contempt. Perhaps you've tried 100 times and failed, but that one success will be enough to make you appreciate the wonder of life. Facing my life, I choose to believe in miracles: It is the sunshine that brightens a humble life. It gives us will to live.
Finally, I'll end with these lyrics from "Trespassing":
- I don't need no sympathy
- I won't cry and whine
- Life's my light and liberty
- And I shine when I wanna shine
I'm grateful for the power of dreams. I wish in everybody's life, the light of miracles. There is no "impossible", you just do what you want to do until you find your own Time for Miracles. Go forth!