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Entertainment Tonight is getting a tune-up.
The long-running entertainment show has turned to seven-time Grammy winner Will.i.am to remix the show’s theme song in a bid for new energy and a fresher feel. The new twist on the 32-year-old musical opener will debut Thursday night, along with a refreshed logo and behind-the-scenes footage with the Black Eyed Peas frontman.
“It’s one of the most famous television theme songs, but I wanted it to sound more techno and more electronic – something that people couldn’t get out of their heads and want to dance to,” ET executive producer Linda Bell Blue tells The Hollywood Reporter of a goal that she believes Will.i.am has delivered on. In doing so, the song hasn’t abandoned the six famous notes that were written into the original, which was composed by Michael Mark in 1981 and re-orchestrated in 1990 and again in 1994 by musician and former ET host and John Tesh.
This time around, ManMade Music founder Joel Beckerman brought in some of the top horn players in New York — including those who have played with The Rolling Stones and Paul Simon — to lay down a new arrangement, before flying out to join Will.i.am in studio at Los Angeles’ Record Plant. Bell Blue and ET host Nancy O’Dell were on site as well as the musician, who has sold 31 million albums in his tenure, put his catchy spin on the song.
“We didn’t want to move away from those iconic notes,” Bell Blue says of chords that remain at the heart of the new iteration, which includes Will.i.am singing such lines as “You want it; we got it” and “We got your entertainment.” “Every star in the world, from Tom Hanks to Lea Michele, has looked into our camera and sang that song.”
The seeds of the partnership were planted nearly two years ago when Bell Blue met Will.i.am on the sidelines at the 2011 Super Bowl, where the Black Eyed Peas performed during the halftime show. The EP says they quickly became friends and have seen each other at a series of events in the months since. When Bell Blue and her team began thinking about the annual tweaks to be made ahead of the show’s 32nd season this past summer — new animation and logo updates are common at ET — a modernization of the theme song seemed an ideal opportunity to bring in Will.i.am. Fortunately for Bell Blue, the musician had been reared on her show, revealing to her that he had watched ET for years with his mother, and signed on.
“We let him know that we really wanted him to make his mark and do his thing with it, and he took it very seriously,” says Beckerman, noting that everyone involved recognized the significance of the assignment — and the pressure that came with it. “This is apple pie. This is American culture. This is TV history. You can’t mess this up.”
He continues: “You have to do it right because everyone knows it and it’s a piece of everyone’s childhood. But at the same time, it needs to be modern and forward-thinking.”
Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose
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