How an Oscars Director Helmed the DNC From His Den

DNC event director Glenn Weiss “got to direct the convention barefoot … working from home.”
Courtesy of Jan Friedlander Svendsen; Kevin Winter/Getty Images

DNC event director Glenn Weiss “got to direct the convention barefoot … working from home.”

Though the four-night, virtual convention featured nearly 300 speakers, Glenn Weiss helmed the entire convention remotely from his home.

There was no shortage of water cooler-worthy moments following the first-of-its-kind 2020 Democratic National Convention which featured nearly 300 speakers, among them Hollywood moderators Eva Longoria, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. But the image that went viral after the wrap of the four-night event was the one posted by Jan Friedlander Svendsen showing fiancé Glenn Weiss barefoot in their Brentwood home directing the entire DNC shindig.

For Svendsen, it offered a unique opportunity to help out the Emmy Award-winning director (the two got engaged onstage during the 2018 show) by mixing roles as a PA, craft services and post-show clean-up. “I have been in the truck or control room for hundreds of his shows,” says Svendsen, chief creative officer for Charity Network. “This time there was also a sense of the magnitude and importance of the messaging going out and a desire to make sure he could help deliver that message to the world in the most compelling way possible. The other difference is that I couldn’t make a smoothie for fear of turning on the blender and bringing down the convention!” The other fear: Power outage. A Los Angeles heat wave crippled the city’s power sources so they brought in a generator to avoid catastrophe. “What if there was a technological snafu? [But] the team had so many backup precautions in place and were prepared for anything. And working from home, Glenn got to direct the convention barefoot, and that was certainly a plus!”

Another bonus: Being able to collaborate in other ways. "I can say that my crafty skills included avocado toast, turkey and brie sandwiches, a lot of pistachio nuts, and smoothies," Svendsen says of her craft services specialties. As for when it was all wrapped up, the two celebrated the well-received event by partnering on some physical exercise. "We swept and mopped the family room floor after the equipment was loaded out and then biked to the beach."

Now on to the next projects — "for Glenn, it is the ACM Awards and for me, back to my day job at the Charity Network, helping celebrities raise money for important charities and causes. I don’t think my career will be in catering or as a production assistant, but it was great to be a small part of something so big and important."

A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.