Stage rendering of the 2021 Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards.
Justin Bieber’s on tap to take a dip in a giant slime lagoon during the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, airing Saturday, March 13 at 7:30 pm. He’ll be cheered on by hundreds of fans coming at him live from giant interactive screen walls, who will also get face time with presenters and performers including Vice President Kamala Harris, Kim Kardashian, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Gal Gadot.
Welcome to big live event production during a pandemic 3.0.
Awards shows generally have been losing audience share in recent years and some—notably last month’s Golden Globes—have received particularly low marks for their lack of creativity and technical prowess at a time when the same-old just doesn’t cut it for television audiences.
Nickelodeon is hoping to step up the game, for a target demographic that’s perhaps the most discerning of all.
The talent lineup for the Kenan Thompson-hosted event also includes BTS, Robert Downey Jr., Millie Bobby Brown, Charli D’Amelio, Hailey Bieber, Addison Rae, Sofía Vergara, David Dobrik, Tiffany Haddish, Tyler Perry, Anna Kendrick and Heidi Klum. Harris will deliver remarks as part of the show’s Generation Change presentation, which recognizes kids’ strength and courage to create a better world for future generations.
“We have such a great lineup this year. I think a big part of is that they want to get back to normal just like everyone does and come to the show,” says Michael Dempsey, who’s executive-producing the KCAs for his sixth year.
The Nickelodeon KCAs stage will be surrounded by a slime lagoon.
“We took advantage of trying to do things that have never been done—with the set, with the audience, with the slimings, with the tech we are using. This one is really going to feel like things are getting back to normal and feel like a big event show with lots of energy.”
The show will have no fans present at LA’s Barker Hangar, so the network pivoted and selected hundreds of contest winners who will be featured on interactive screens. The participants are equipped with KCA party packs to kit out their digs, and they’ll be incorporated into the stage. One family will be selected to present an award.
“We’re going to have one family announce one of our winners,” Dempsey says. One family will also be awarded a blimp of its own after fans vote in real-time on who has the best KCAs-decorated living space.
But almost all of the presenters and performers will be in the room. Which means the slime quotient is leveling up, too. At least six presenters are slated to be doused, and with the stage surrounded by a massive lagoon, at least one celebrity will be taking a dip.
“Justin Bieber will be going into the slime lagoon during one of his performances,” Dempsey says.
A stage rendering of the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.
Nick also sent 12-ounce bottles of slime to the participating families, who will simultaneously unleash the green stuff. The company partnered with Guinness World Records to achieve a new milestone. “This is going to set a new world record of the most simultaneous slimings from different locations at the same time,” Dempsey says. Who knew that record already existed?
Perhaps above all, KCA is aiming to get the tech right. The show will implement extended reality (XR) tech into the Nick app, in an effort to bring viewers closer to the action.
“We jumped into some other technology, and created a blimp that is going to a couple different destinations during the show to deliver awards for people who cant be here,” Dempsey says. “It’s super interactive.”
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