NEW YORK – Whether it’s the Australian summer in January, the sophistication of springtime in Paris, the traditions and formality of Wimbledon or the summer heat, crowds and noise of New York, the ESPN Tennis team conveys a sense of place in its presentations of the sport’s major events. The bumps, teases, opens and features provide the unique flavor of the sights and sounds of each venue.
For the US Open currently taking place, viewers are seeing an unlikely doubles team – 88-year-old classic singer Tony Bennett and pop sensation Lady Gaga. They have lent their services – and three songs from their upcoming album of duets – to ESPN’s telecasts. Watch the video above to see one of the teases involving the singers.
How did this come about?
“[Producer] David Saltz of ABC and I were discussing what approach to take with this year’s US Open, and we liked the idea of using the classic swing vibe of New York,” said ESPN Vice President, Event Production, Jamie Reynolds. “From there, it all came together. We knew Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett were preparing a collection of jazz standards and we contacted their representatives.”
Even better, Bennett loves tennis and in fact is a regular at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“He is a regular, iconic fan at the event,” according to Reynolds.
Videos of the pair performing supplied by Universal Music were supplemented with a shoot with “Max,” the emcee from the avant-garde New York show “Sleep No More.”
In addition, tennis action and stylized video from a shoot with tennis photos are used to create spots specific to matchups. The second week’s segments will include new video from each performer shot during the tournament – Bennett in his Manhattan apartment, Lady Gaga while on tour in Australia.
The first result used the Cole Porter classic “Anything Goes” while later versions featured “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” (with its obvious tennis connection) and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” by Duke Ellington.
The Bennett-Gaga collaboration – “Cheek to Cheek,” including the title track penned by Irving Berlin – will be released on Sept. 19.