Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ICYMI: HLN Morning Express With Robin Meade has a new set and new direction. We're more social !!!

I am sooooo stoked about the new direction we are taking.... check out the deets:

As part of its social-media makeover, HLN unveiled a new set for “Morning Express” with Robin Meade Tuesday morning.
“Our own morning sunshine, Robin Meade and her MXP crew, debuted HLN’s new set which reflects our mission to give the social media community the first all-screens home for the best social news and lifestyle content in the world,” network President Albie Hecht wrote in a memo to staff.

The social-media-oriented show, hosted by Ali Nejad and Yasmin Vassoughian, is one of the first cable news shows whose content is dictated by what’s trending on social media rather than decisions made by producers.
“This is about redefining news as news you share,” HLN President Albie Hecht told TheWrap in a wide-ranging interview at the end of 2014 about the network’s new direction.

“It also means where we get our news, so I say to our producers: you have to program this network and this all-screens experience for people who don’t have a TV set, don’t have a magazine, don’t read the newspaper; they’re going to get up, they’re going to look at their phone, they’re going to get their feed or their information.”
Here's what the boss wrote...
Team —
Right now, HLN is making history. A year ago we promised to break the cable TV news mode, and at 6 am today, that’s exactly what we did. Our own morning sunshine, Robin Meade and her MXP crew, debuted HLN’s new set which reflects our mission to give the social media community the first all-screens home for the best social news and lifestyle content in the world.
At noon, “The Daily Share,” HLN’s first live daily show under the new brand, kicks off with hosts Ali Nejad and Yasmin Vassoughian. Another first for HLN is T-Mobile’s all-screens sponsorship of The Daily Share.
We’ll be sharing photos of the new HLN all day long. Use the hashtag #ReadySetGo.
In tandem with “The Daily Share” on-air launch, The Daily Share Website went live: http://www.hlntv.com/thedailyshare. Infinite kudos to our digital and social teams.
Continuing on that innovative visual theme, HLN also debuted its new logo and graphics look which shows another example of how HLN is rethinking the way news and information is delivered.
And this spot is reserved for Vale, Jack Vale. The mega successful YouTube star who comes to HLN exclusively to reveal how pranking has become the family business with his wife Sherry and their five kids. “Jack Vale: Offline” is our social media brand’s first original series. Watch, follow, like, share, tweet every Tuesday at 10 pm ET/PT #JackValeOffline.
Of course, thank you Nancy Grace, Dr. Drew and their teams for anchoring HLN’s new brand in prime. You are the Queen and King of social integration in your shows. And on the weekends, Lynn Berry and her WXP team rule. Thank you Lynn for showing us the art of the make-up free selfie.
OMG, we did it thanks to all of you. Always in awe of your unwavering dedication and work.
Mondo thanks!

We had some fun launching the set... I showed up for work at the old studios... nobody there.

Cue the “Mission Impossible” theme music knockoff.

Next, I called the boss who, Charlie’s Angels-style, told me to get to Studio 7, pronto.

The new studio, which is a heavily modified version of the old home of CNN shows originating from Atlanta, is home to “Morning Express” as well as the new “Daily Share” show.

Here's how one reporter described it:

The set, as it’s used for “Morning Express” relies heavily on the “coffeehouse and startup” vibe the network was going for — with a large, open work table made from rough wood with a retro light fixture mounted above, coffee bar and trendy pod-style anchor desk for Meade.

Meade is primarily shot against a the LED wall with internally lit framing and additional monitors, as well as the work area, which also features a large chalkboard-style graphic with the new HLN logo surrounding by doodles.

Much of set’s sleek, shiny surfaces have been removed in favor of a rustic wood finish, darker walls and textured surfaces, which keeping some of the metallic framing and backlit elements.

Unlike the “Daily Share” version of the set, “Morning Express” has made good use of the space and does a fairly good job at creating a cohesive look and feel for the show and is thankfully devoid of the space-age “social circle” set element and garish teal and pink coloring.

The new look is certainly an upgrade for the show’s longtime look of color wash duras.

- See more at: http://www.newscaststudio.com/2015/01/13/hlns-morning-express-moves-to-new-set-forgets-to-tell-anchor/#sthash.MYxBGlHh.dpuf

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Getting my bod into Vegas Showgirl shape!

Yeah, so appearing in Vegas may seem like all glamour, but I had to get my arse in shape before I made my Las Vegas debut. So I asked my bod-buddy Jen Hendershott, a two time Olympia champ to help.

Here's a vid of what she put me through...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Here's the story behind my Vegas buddies: Human Nature


Australian pop group Human Nature has certainly made its mark on the land down under. Here's the tale of the tape: 24 platinum awards, 18 Top 40 hits and five Top 10 hits on the way to becoming the No. 1 pop vocal group ever in Australia.

Now Human Nature is making an equally strong mark on North America. The talented quartet has a long-running Las Vegas show with sold-out performances galore. The Vegas show is powered by a collaboration with the group's friend and Motown legend Smokey Robinson. The veteran performer helped Human Nature launch its famed "Motown Show," which has played for more than five years in Las Vegas. The group performs in Smokey Robinson Presents Human Nature: The Motown Show five nights a week at The Venetian Las Vegas.

Following its PBS TV special, the group toured nationally in the U.S. in 2012 and scored a No. 1 position on the Heatseekers/New Artist chart with the release of its first U.S. album, "The Motown Record," and its companion DVD "Human Nature Sings Motown." After an appearance on ABC's hit competition show "Dancing With The Stars" in April 2012, "The Motown Record" shot up to the No. 1 spot on Amazon's Movers and Shakers, as well as the Top 40 on both the Amazon and iTunes sales chart.

A second collaboration is currently helping to drive the group's career. With "Human Nature: The Christmas Album" a hit last year in its native Australia, the group decided to release the album in the U.S. this year -- and it wanted to add a duet with someone it could describe as "America's Sweetheart." Human Nature's manager also managed Robin Meade, the long-running host of HLN's "Morning Express with Robin Meade," who is also a well-respected singer-songwriter with a pair of albums charting on the Billboard Country Albums chart in 2011's "Brand New Day" and 2013's "Count On Me."

The result of Human Nature's collaboration with Meade has spawned a hit holiday single and a new holiday season-themed Vegas show.

The group's holiday duet, "Sleigh Ride," with the TV news personality-singer, has been gaining steady momentum through the past couple of weeks and currently sits at No. 29 on the AC Radio Airplay Chart and holds a No. 16 position on the Holiday Music Radio Airplay Chart.

The limited-engagement Human Nature's Christmas, Motown, and More show -- featuring performances by Meade -- started an 11-day run at the Sands Showroom in The Venetian Las Vegas on Dec. 12 and will wrap up with a special 1 p.m. matinee show on Christmas Eve.

Human Nature is comprised of brothers Andrew and Mike Tierney, Toby Allen and Phil Burton from Sydney. Just a couple of days ago, Burton got together with HNGN for an exclusive interview, detailing the group's formation and meteoric rise in popularity, in both its own country and in America.

HNGN: Give us the story behind how Human Nature started.

PB: Andrew, Mike, Toby and I all went to the same high school. We were in choir together. And in high school all the music kids kind of hang out together, so we were all friends.

There was an end-of-school concert and Andrew suggested we four do something for it, like a doo-wop thing. So, at the concert we performed "Earth Angel." It was fun. For the next couple of years we'd do the odd school concert here and there.

Then we all went to university. But we were in Sydney schools, so we kept rehearsing and kept doing gigs. About 18 months into us going to university we were getting busy doing gigs, so the tipping point came. We got together and said, "One of these things -- university and performing -- is getting in the way of the other, so which one are we going to give up?" We decided we needed to give music a full-time shot, because we may never get the chance again. So, university had to go. Thank goodness we made the right decision.

HNGN: You started having success in Australia, but how did your connection to Motown songs and Smokey Robinson come about?

PB: We've always done Motown songs, ever since we started in 1989. Motown has been a big influence on us. In 2005 we decided to make a Motown record. It did so well that the next year we made a second one -- and that record did extremely well, too.

Well, we really wanted to make a third one, but we didn't want to do the same thing. To make the third one different we decided to ask the original Motown superstars if they would do duets with us. And, of course, Smokey was No. 1 on our list, because, he is, after all, the king of Motown.

We had our manager and record company call Smokey's agent and manager so that they could ask him if he'd be interested in doing a duet with us. As it turned out, Smokey had actually heard our first two Motown albums, so he was more than happy to say "yes." He actually ended up recording two duets with us.

When he was recording his parts for the songs, we went over to L.A. and walked into the studio to surprise him. We entered the studio and sang "Ooh Baby Baby" a capella for him. He loved it and thought it was amazing. He was blown away.

After that, he became a kind of mentor to us. He was from that point on really following our career closely. And he said whatever help he could give us, he would do. Eventually, when it came around to us coming to Vegas to do a Motown show, we asked Smokey if we could put his name to our show there, and he was glad to do that. He's become a great friend and we are so lucky to have him involved in what we do.

We've been doing the Motown show in Vegas for five and half years. We were at the Imperial Palace for the first three and a half years, and for the last two years we've been at the Venetian.

HNGN: And now you've released "Human Nature: A Christmas Album" here in the States.

PB: That's right. We recorded our Christmas album last year in Australia and released it there. Then we got the chance to have it released in America this year. At the same time, we put together a Christmas show for a run in Las Vegas, where we now live and where we perform.

Rehearsal with Human Nature at the Sands Showroom in the Venetian Resort Las Vegas

Then we decided we wanted a special guest on the album who would also be involved in the Christmas show. Our agent, who happens to also be Robin's agent, suggested Robin as our special guest. He said I know you've seen her on TV as a news person, but she's also a singer. So we listened to some her music and we thought she'd be just great for the Vegas show -- and then we recorded the "Sleigh Ride" duet. We couldn't be happier. Robin's fantastic.

The Vegas show with Robin allows us to do the Christmas material that we were itching do live. This show is very different from our regular Motown show. The crowds have been loving it. And it's really fun. Having Robin to be part of the show is fantastic. We'll do that show up to Christmas Eve.

HNGN: What's next for Human Nature?

PB: We're considering creating a totally new show for Vegas. Hopefully we'll get that done -- and hopefully we'll blow away the crowds with something new.

"Human Nature: A Christmas Album" track list:

"White Christmas"
"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
"Sleigh Ride" (duet with Robin Meade)
"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"
"Winter Wonderland"
"Please Come Home For Christmas" (duet with Smokey Robinson)
"Silent Night/O Holy Night"
"Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer"
"Christmas Without You"
"Give Love On Christmas Day"
"Santa Clause Is Coming To Town"
"This Christmas"
"Amazing Grace" (with the Prague Phiharmonic Orchestra)
Bonus Track: "Mary's Boy Child"

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The reviews from Las Vegas are in... I am so blessed. ICYMI

The Las Vegas Sun writes...

Then the surprise of CNN Morning Express star Robin Meade. Who knew the pretty lady, a one-time Miss Ohio and at Headline News since 2001, was such a talented singer? She looks sensational in a colorful Christmas wardrobe, and after belting out several favorites in perfect pitch, I had to wonder if she’d ever swap the TelePrompTer for onstage music sheets.

“I’m so fortunate to be at a point in my life where I can pursue both of my passions: television and music. I’m grateful I work for bosses who understand both sides of my personality in terms of news and music. Bottom line: I’d love to come back and be on the stage more, especially with Human Nature. They are outstanding musicians and people.

“After 20 years of helming the morning news, it still comes as a surprise to many people that I’ve been a vocalist longer than that. The energy with our audiences has been combustible. I’m honored and pumped to be part of it.”

And the AJC.com wrote...

It’s two hours before showtime when Robin Meade arrives backstage at the Sands Showroom at the Venetian.

Everything around her is tiny – the suitcase she’s hauling, her waistline, the dressing room she’s entering that consists of a chair, flat-screen TV and arrangement of flowers.

But two of the things that make her such a success on HLN’s “Morning Express,” her smile and personality, are big – very big – as she prepares to do a sound check with the crackerjack band on stage and the four charming Australian guys in their own (slightly larger) dressing room a few steps away.

Meade is preparing for her second performance with Human Nature, the vocal group renowned for its “Smokey Robinson Presents Human Nature: The Motown Show” that has played Las Vegas since 2009 – first at Imperial Palace and, since January 2013, at the Venetian in the same real estate that once housed the Sands Hotel and the legendary Rat Pack.

Several months ago, Human Nature – Andrew and Michael Tierney, Toby Allen and Phil Burton – invited Meade, who has two albums on her resume, to sing with them in their first-ever Christmas outing for 11 performances between Dec. 12 and Dec. 24. She also guests on “Sleigh Ride” on the group’s “Human Nature: The Christmas Album.”

During the live show, it’s one of five songs Meade performs with the guys, along with a seven-piece band and the Bella Electric Strings quartet.

Singing in front of concertgoers in a 742-seat showroom doesn’t faze Meade, who is as natural on stage as she is in front of the camera. She’s eager to run through some of her songs during sound check, a ritual that Human Nature still engages in before every performance, and is especially excited about bringing a souped-up version of “Run Rudolph Run” to the evening.

“When I heard Kelly Clarkson’s version of the song, I thought it would be a nice change of pace in the show,” Meade said, sitting in the mostly empty theater before showtime in jeans and a T-shirt.

Soon, though, she will scoot backstage to transform into a Vegas performer – her hair a bit bigger, her clothes with a bit more sparkle and fringe – and wait for her cue to hit the stage nine numbers into the 21-song, 90-minute set.

While Human Nature has, obviously, shifted the focus of its presentation to a holiday theme – lighted trees flank the stage, snowflakes dangle from the ceiling and hi-res video panels shine footage of cutesy-hokey Christmassy things – it also gives the audience a hefty dose of its well-regarded Motown revue.

Its a cappella work is outstanding on “Winter Wonderland” and the Tierney brothers harmonize angelically on the melancholy “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

But the group, in tuxes and red bow ties, brightens on its perfectly-timed versions of “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Reach Out (I’ll Be There),” staples from its usual gig.

When Meade arrives for “Sleigh Ride” (see video below), the audience hollers in appreciative recognition, and she glides through the song – in her self-bedazzled coat –fairly comfortably, considering it’s only her second show with the guys.

Meade’s instincts to inject some Chuck Berry-styled grit into the concert with her spirited “Run Rudolph Run” were absolutely correct as she playfully vamps during the song. Another change of pace arrives as she hops atop a piano for the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” a fitting choice for someone whose TV show motto is “Morning Sunshine!”, a phrase she attributes to her dad.

But it’s her duet with Allen, the molasses-voiced bass singer of Human Nature, that is a highlight as the twosome trade verses, twirl around the stage and head into the audience for some close-up interaction (Meade’s CNN comrade Nancy Grace gets an amusing shout-out).