His & Hers pays homage to “Empire” for Halloween edition on Friday

We’re used to producing the free flowing conversation of live TV. Doing a spoof is a little more painstaking.
– Ed Eck, His & Hers coordinating producer

ESPN2’s His & Hers will pay homage to the popular television drama “Empire” for a Halloween special on Friday, Oct. 30, at noon ET.

Hosts Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, who are big fans of the Fox series, will appear as Lucious and Cookie Lyon, respectively, two characters from the drama.

The program will open with Smith and Hill in a re-creation of a scene from “Empire.” The opening was shot in a conference room on the ESPN campus that was repurposed to look like the show’s boardroom.

“It’s very similar to a scene from the pilot episode,” said Ed Eck, His & Hers coordinating producer. “We changed it around to be more about Mike and Jemele, and changed the dialogue a little bit to fit His & Hers.”

Therese Andrews, project manager for His & Hers, organized the entire production, including hiring extras used in the scene, coordinating wardrobe and makeup, and writing much of the script, with Smith and Hill adding their own flavor. She also worked with director Cat Jacques and the show producers in transforming the His & Hers set and graphics for the Halloween show.

Nicole Peterson, social media producer for the show, helped Andrews throughout the project and led the editing, while ESPN producer Dan Schwachter joined the project and served as director.

“We’re used to producing the free-flowing conversation of live TV,” said Eck. “Doing a spoof is a little more painstaking. We try to follow the original source material as close as possible and get every detail right to make it feel like a movie instead of a studio TV show.”

I’m amazed how good Mike and Jemele are at acting. They set such a high bar with ‘Coming to America,’ we all wanted to try to match it with ‘Empire.’
– Ed Eck, His & Hers coordinating producer

This won’t be the first time that His & Hers has paid tribute to a film or TV show. Prior to the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight earlier this year, Smith and Hill dressed as characters and did a version of the barbershop scene from the movie “Coming to America” while discussing boxing.

Next week, for the show’s one-year anniversary celebration on Tuesday, Nov. 3, His & Hers will be spoofing the movie “Step Brothers” with a surprise cameo. The show will include some clips of the best moments from the year.

“Our staffers, in general, are all huge movie and TV nerds,” said Eck. “We love sports and we love producing sports TV, but we also have passion for a wide variety of television and movies, and for us to take off our TV producer hat and put on our film producer hat for a day is really fun.

“And to watch Mike and Jemele just become these characters is just great,” he said. “I’m amazed how good Mike and Jemele are at acting. They set such a high bar with ‘Coming to America,”we all wanted to try to match it with “Empire.'”

Timbaland reacts to Empire spoof

In the video above, legendary music producer Timbaland – who also is an executive producer of the hit drama “Empire” – reacts to seeing preview pictures of His & Hers’ Halloween spoof of the show. Timbaland visited ESPN earlier this week as part of an ESPN Car Wash.
Video produced by Jonothon Halley-McLeod
“Empire” spoof photography by Joe Faraoni

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