Spectacle Report: New Year's Eve

Whether you’re spending New Year’s Eve in black tie or in your bathrobe, you could do a lot worse in the entertainment department than watching Elvis and the great Tony Bennett. (Although if you are in your bathrobe, you may want to put on an ascot or heels – or both.)

Now, unbelievably, an octogenarian, Mr. Bennett is the epitome of elegance and practically the embodiment of what has come to be known as the Great American Songbook, the astonishing collection of clever and popular songs composed (mostly) in the United States around the middle of the 20th century.

As luck would have it, Tony Bennett is more or less the last man standing from that magical era – and it really is lucky for us that he is still here to song those songs, and we’re luckier still that he sings them with such feeling and poignancy (not to mention with that inimitable voice, which is a wonder of the world itself) after all these years.

There is no way to cover a career like Tony Bennett’s in an hour, so we didn’t try. Besides, much of Tony’s rollercoaster ride has been well documented. But to let him hold forth in a relaxed setting, with some gentle prodding from Elvis on certain topics, and for the music to go where Tony wanted it to go (with his own hand-picked accompanist on piano, the brilliant Bill Charlap) didn’t seem like a bad idea.

Tony’s arrival and brief soundcheck at the studio just a couple of hours before the taping was a master class in itself. Immaculately groomed and dressed, impeccably mannered and the very definition of the consummate pro, he wastes no time and is a pleasure to deal with from start to finish. His presence commands not only respect but also the feeling that it is a privilege to witness a master at work. We hope you feel the same way when you watch the program.

Tony chose the songs in the show (other than the slightly surprising opening number, which Elvis picked for reasons that will become apparent), and, again, it’s hard to argue with the man’s taste. We get a sampling of the songwriters he knew and admired, and a few insights into these geniuses who created words and music that have stood the test of time – just as Tony Bennett has.

And as an added bonus, Tony plucks a certain jazz superstar from the audience for a totally spontaneous duet that provides just one of many special moments in this edition of Spectacle.

Thanks for watching, and although you don’t have to wear a tuxedo or an evening gown, you might enjoy it more if you do.

Happy New Year!

Stephen Warden
Executive Producer/Creator
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