9:16am PT by Kimberly Nordyke
First Look: Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards Revamps Set, Adds Slime River (Exclusive)
Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards is getting a bit of a makeover this year.
The awards show, set to air live March 29 at 8 p.m. ET/PT from University of Southern California's Galen Center, is getting a revamped stage this year that aims to bring the audience closer to the action.
"We wanted to take advantage of the arena in the way we'd never done before and engulf the audience, 360 degrees," says Emmy-winning production designer Steve Bass, who has worked on the show for 10 years. "We're breaking through the fourth wall and bringing the show out into the arena this year."
To that end, large screens are being added in a new setup to give the audience even more of an up-close look at all the action than in years past. Additionally, floor seating has been removed to make the kids' mosh pit four times bigger than it's ever been.
"One thing that was the impetus for a lot of this transformation was making the kids the stars of the show," Bass says, noting that the fantasy-inspired theme will incorporate animals and flowers of the sort one doesn't see in real life. "We want the kids on the show to interact with the celebrities and the slime unlike ever before."
Ah yes, the show's signature slime will, of course, be back. There will be some 20,000 gallons of it used at this year's event (some of it will even be neon-hued), but the slime is being incorporated as more of a stylistic element of the show -- as art, in other words. For example, the stage design for the first time will feature what is being called a "slime river" that connects a musical performance area with the stage where the winners are revealed.
"There will be fun stepping-stones where [the stars] have to hop over the river," Bass says. "There is always a chance they can fall in. And we'll have leaping fountains in the river, so someone could get hit."
Also part of the new design is a slime waterfall about 10 feet wide; meanwhile, some of the winners' envelopes will come out of the podium drenched in slime.
"We've never done this in the past, where we really integrate slime with how the winners are revealed," Bass says of the "two special slime podiums." In fact, "The presenters will have to reach into the slime and pull the envelope out. It's not only a great visual but is the kind of great human moment that makes for great TV."
He also teases a "special performance" that will incorporate the slime.
As for what the stuff is made of, Nickelodeon isn't saying (and Bass says even he doesn't know), but the presenters and winners can rest assured: It is both edible and nontoxic.
Still, Bass says, the stars who take part in the show know what they are signing up for: "In the history of Kids' Choice, all the stars who come on the show are really excited about two things: the kids and the slime. They are usually up for a lot of things they are not up for on other awards shows."