Emmy-Winning Production Designer Rene Lagler Recalls the Challenges of the 1986 Statue of Liberty Centennial

"There were seven events in four days, and I had to design all seven," recounts Lagler, who will be one of four lifetime achievement honorees at the ADG Excellence in Production Design Awards on Feb. 11.
Courtesy of ADG
Rene Lagler

Five-time Emmy-winning production designer Rene Lagler, 75, has done it all, including countless TV specials and series such as The Mary Tyler Moore Hour; awards shows including the 57th Oscars; and events such as the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympics in L.A., Democratic National Conventions and President Clinton’s inaugural galas. And for that, he’ll be one of four Lifetime Achievement Award honorees at the 21st annual Art Directors Guild Excellence in Production Design Awards.

In fact, Lagler himself has been a witness to history. Take his Emmy-winning work on David Wolper’s Liberty Weekend in 1986, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. “There were seven events in four days, and I had to design all seven,” he recounts. “There was the opening ceremony on Governors Island and the closing ceremony at the Meadowlands. And there were shows in Central Park, at Liberty State Park, on Liberty Island and on Ellis Island.” Such massive live events pose unique challenges. For example, the closing ceremony set for the 1984 Olympics had to be installed in just 15 hours.

Lagler still is at it — among his current projects is a Neil Diamond concert tour, kicking off April 7. “I’m not done yet,” he says.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.