View Mobile Site
 

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

 

The man behind the screens

Jim Piccirillo heads The CW’s up-front presentation team for annual announcement of new TV season

Posted: May 22, 2010 4:18 p.m.
Updated: May 23, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Jim Piccirillo, of Valencia Production Partners, works on a car commercial at his office in Valencia. He has worked with FOX, CBS, UPN, ABC Family, Hallmark, The CW and others. Piccirillo has been a producer and director for nearly three decades in Los Angeles.

View More »
 

For four consecutive days each year, all major American television networks descend upon New York City.

Networks woo advertisers with next season’s television line-ups. Advertisers are wined, dined, entertained and offered a reduced “upfront” rate on coveted commercial slots.

Clips from each new television series flash across big screens, extravagant musical numbers take the stage and appearances by network stars complete what could be considered network television’s biggest week.

For the last 22 years, Valencia resident Jim Piccirillo has seen it all. And it never gets old.

“I love it,” said executive producer and director Piccirillo, of Valencia Production Partners. “It takes six months to mount a show like this, and it’s only an hour and 15 minutes long. It’s the combination of an awards show and a rock show all meshed into one.”

Piccirillo, 53, joined his national crew this past week in New York to produce an up-front presentation for The CW network — the final masterpiece following six months of design. For the last six years, Valencia Production Partners has been responsible for the The CW’s up-front presentations.

“Ever since The CW launched, we have been the team behind all their upfront presentations,” he said. “It’s like doing 100 things at once. It’s multitasking to the 10th power.”

That’s no problem for the director and producer with 30 years of broadcast experience. He began directing newscasts at age 22.

“I thought I wanted to be on camera, but once I got to L.A., I realized there was more opportunity for me behind the camera,” he said.
“Production always fascinated me.”

After a decade in news, he moved into entertainment. But he took with him a craving for live production.

“When you do news every day for 10 years you get very disciplined,” he said. “It was a great training ground for me. When I moved on to entertainment, I realized it was much easier to meet those types of deadlines.”

With live television, there’s nothing like the minute-to-minute pressure, he said.

It’s the same kind of thrill Piccirillo still gets when he does live productions. With decades of experience behind him, he has the veteran’s ability to gauge what might go wrong, he said. But with live television, nothing’s 100-percent predictable.

“When you go into an arena with 30,000 people, it’s an adrenaline rush,” he said. “That’s the beauty of live production. Nothing goes the way it did last time.”

Around-the-clock work fills the months leading up to  network television’s upfront presentations, traditionally held in May. But one idea change or the cancellation of a television show or a seemingly simple adjustment can revamp the production entirely, Piccirillo said.

A recent stage change for the CW presentation called for a production revamp. The stage had to be redesigned to accommodate  popular female artist Katy Perry and her band.

“We had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to incorporate a moving stage,” he said. “That one little thing dominoed everything down the line.”

When Piccirillo is not staging shows or directing a set-design team, he’s in his Valencia production studio, which includes two edit bays. Valencia Production Company is a full-service production and postproduction company that specializes in live television events, corporate presentations, network promos, electronic press kits, press tours and fashion shows.  

But anyone who walks into the offices might be surprised to find only a few staff members.

Piccirillo has developed relationships with hundreds of industry professionals across the country throughout the years. Major productions like the up-front presentations become a national effort.

“Even though I’m in Valencia, many of my vendors are working on individual elements of the show all around the country,” he said.

Piccirillo has worked with FOX, CBS, UPN, ABC Family, Hallmark and many others.

Entertainment has always been in his blood. Coming from a musically talented family and being a drummer himself, Piccirillo imagines had he followed that path, he’d be travelling the country in a band.

“That childhood dream did not work out, but this did,” he said.

In an industry that is always evolving and spinning forward, you can never get too comfortable in one spot. It’s all part of the adrenaline rush for Piccirillo.

“Every few years you’ve got to reinvent yourself,” he said. “You’ve got to niche into whatever new is going on at that time.”

 

Comments

Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

 
 

Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...