My name is Wayne Gurnick and I have been hooked on American Idol for some time. When we recently switched cable providers, a feeling of sheer terror came over us at the prospect of messing up the recorded shows. That’s where a 14-year old son can be very helpful.
I must confess that when I got a call from Michael and Carolyn Darnell about doing their daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, I was more than a little excited. Michael is the mastermind that figured out how to make the concept of American Idol work for Fox Broadcasting, the network where he is in charge of alternative entertainment (think reality shows of every kind.)
During the course of three months that I worked with the Darnell family, I did what I typically do when designing and coordinating an event. I developed their theme (Willy Wonka meets Cirque du Soleil), came up with the design, developed a budget and brought together an amazing team of people to make it all come life. Nothing unusual so far.
The experience that was out of the ordinary was that at each meeting with my client I was treated to an infusion of “Idol.” For the Darnell’s, “Idol” has permeated every aspect of their life and the work behind the scenes is never ending. Their existence has become closely intertwined with the lives of the Idols, both current and past. The stories are amazing and the personal achievements and the transformations never stop being fascinating.
Yet, despite all the creativity, imagination and talent that the Darnells clearly possess, they allowed me to do what I do best – produce an event that was all about celebrating their daughter and having fun. That is my real confession – it is truly amazing to have a chance to design, create and produce an event where my client trusts me and allows me to do what I know and love.
I must say that I enjoyed the benefits that come along with “Idol.” If you listen carefully, you will hear Ryan Seacrest say “Kieran, dim the lights…” just before he announces the fate of yet another Idol contestant. Well, I got to meet Kieran Healy, the lighting designer for the show. He graciously lent his expertise to make sure that the whimsical décor that we created in the ballroom sparkled just right. Thank you, Kieran!
And tonight – yet another benefit when we join the live Idol audience to cheer on the amazingly talented singers. I will sit back and enjoy the show, knowing that behind the scenes countless people are doing their job to produce an event to entertain and inspire us, much like we did for the Darnell celebration a few weeks ago.
Photography by Evan Guston Photography