ESPN's U.S. Open Coverage to Feature Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett's 'Cheek to Cheek' Album
For the US Open currently taking place in New York, ESPN 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, Cheek to Cheek - to ESPN's telecasts for the bumps, opens and teases.
How did it 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," says Jamie Reynolds, vice president, production. 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.
"From there, it all came together," Reynolds continued. "We knew Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett were preparing a collection of jazz standards and we contacted their representatives."
The Bennett-Gaga collaboration - Cheek to Cheek, including the title track penned by Irving Berlin - will be released on September 23 by Streamline/Columbia/Interscope Records.
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 M.C. from the avant garde New York performance "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: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11455993) and It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) by Duke Ellington.
"We've always enjoyed a fruitful partnership with ESPN," said Steve Berman, vice chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M. "We work hand in glove with them to us reach an engaged, targeted audience for our artists and their programming. And we love working with them to continue to find new ways to build on that. What we have all done with Gaga and Tony is another highlight for us."
ESPN & the US Open in 2015
In May 2013, ESPN and the USTA announced that ESPN would be the exclusive home in North and South AMERICA of the US Open from first ball through the women's and men's championships each summer from New York beginning in 2015. ESPN has televised approximately100 hours of live US Open matches annually since 2009, and will air 130+ hours with the addition of day-long coverage of the "middle weekend" - Saturday, Sunday and Labor Day Monday - plus both the men's and women's semifinals and finals. The 11-year agreement also includes expanded digital and international rights.