Kirshner set to run the Democrats' show

Emmy winner teams with strategist for convention

WASHINGTON -- The Democratic National Convention Committee has tapped Emmy-winning producer Ricky Kirshner and longtime Democratic Party strategist Mark Squier to serve as executive producers for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Kirshner and Squier are charged with choreographing the overall look and execution of the Aug. 25-28 convention program including the design, staging, lighting, audio and entertainment.

"Pairing Ricky's unparalleled production experience with Mark's strategic political insight will make an unbeatable team," said Leah Daughtry, CEO of the DNCC. "I am confident they will put on the most spectacular show in convention history."

Kirshner, one of the industry's leading production executives, has produced every Democratic National Convention since 1996. During the past 20 years, he has produced television specials, stadium spectaculars, political events and corporate gatherings. He won two Emmys for producing the 2004 and 2006 Tony Awards and was an executive producer of the Emmy-nominated Super Bowl halftime show.

Producing a four-day convention is different from other shows, Kirshner said. "We don't control the TV going out," he said in an interview. "We produce a live show inside the arena, but what goes out is up to the networks."

The puts a different kind of pressure on event producers.

"We want to give the networks something they want to cover for the entire event," Kirshner said. "It's kind of a hard bar to reach on some occasions."

Denver also gives the Democratic convention a different backdrop. There the convention's producers can use the American West as a backdrop. "From the theatrical point of view, it's not just Denver, it's the whole West," he said.

And while the convention can get lost in New York or Los Angeles, it's a big deal for a town Denver's size.

"Coming to Denver, it's a big deal," Kirshner said. "It's something unique. I live in New York, and when the convention was there, it was like, 'Well, it'll tie up traffic.' In New York, it's just one of those things. Not here."

Squier has been a media consultant and strategic adviser to Democratic candidates for federal and statewide office and Democratic Party committees for more than 25 years. As executive producer of the convention, he will spearhead the strategic communications behind the program that the party hopes will put the Democratic nominee on the path to winning the White House.

"I am very much looking forward to creating a convention program that helps communicate the voice and vision of our party and our nominee," Squier said. "Our ultimate goal here is to put on a show that inspires the nation and builds just the right starting block for our nominee to begin the homestretch sprint to the election."