'Lip Sync Battle' Boss Offers Stars 5 Tips on How to Dominate (Hint: Recruit Your Celebrity Friends!)

A contender in the Emmys' structured reality race, not competition, the Spike TV hit blends variety with rivalry. EP Casey Patterson suggests future competitors take their cues from past participants including Channing and Jenna Dewan Tatum and Taraji P. Henson.
Courtesy of Spike TV
'Lip Sync Battle'

1. Know Thine Enemy
Channing and Jenna Dewan Tatum were on another level. They first resisted doing the show because they are unbelievably competitive; they wanted the time to rehearse. It was a house divided. They had two choreographers working on opposite ends of their home. Jenna was coming in at midnight to rehearse.

2. Celebrity Friends Don't Hurt
Taraji P. Henson did Mary J. Blige’s "Just Fine." She and Mary are best friends, so Mary came out during the song. The audience loved seeing what that song meant to her.

3. This Isn’t a Shill
Our audience acknowledges that it’s not a very promotional show. The guests don’t bring clips. They don’t come on to plug. They’re just there to entertain and connect with their fans.

4. Pick From Your Own Playlist
It’s important to pick something you love and commit to your take, to not try to be perfect. Terrence Howard said, "I already know what I’m doing, Rick James’ 'Brick House.' " Well, we love [The Commodores’] "Brick House," but that’s not a Rick James song. He didn’t care. He did it anyway. And he won.

5. Know Your Limits 
A lot of people say, "I’m a really good rapper." Well, sometimes that’s true — but more often than not, it isn’t. Gina Rodriguez is an incredible rapper, and she chose a song [Lil Wayne’s "A Milli"] you really have to be into. Fans love when you surprise with your tastes. They aren’t watching for the dancing. They watch for how well you know the song.

This story first appeared in the June 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.