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Hilarity for Charity and Fox's NYE

Range and talent: it’s what keeps you working in Hollywood. That doesn’t just apply to the personalities you see onscreen. Professionals like production manager Saj Patel are employed time and time again by the companies and well-known names in television and film because they have a strong skill set that applies to a variety of different scenarios. The common thread in all their work is being exceptional. Patel’s “fingerprint” ranges from show’s like The Voice (UK) to his work with iconic band U2. Considering his work with the Netflix special Seth Rogen’s Hilarity for Charity and Fox’s New Year’s Eve special with Steve Harvey gives one an idea of Saj’s ability to bring an ease tempered with excitement to any production. Altruistic streaming comedy to major network pandemonium, Saj Patel appears as the confident calm in the eye of the storm; a trait he attributes to preparation.

Seth Rogen’s annual Hilarity for Charity gala benefitting Alzheimer’s was broadcast on Netflix for the first time ever in 2018. The show was comprised of live stand-up comedy and pre-taped skits starring the biggest names in Comedy including (among others) Tiffany Haddish, Jeff Goldblum, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Seth Rogen. The interwoven nature of these live and pre-taped segments was immensely complex. To ensure the smooth execution, Bill Urban (freelance Executive in Charge of Production) brought Patel aboard after collaborating with him on Gwen Stefani’s NBC holiday special in late 2017. Saj created and managed the pre-tape sketches produced for the main event. Rogen’s calling card is irreverent humor that pushes the envelope. This Netflix special proved that Seth and the comedy community could use their own style of comedy to garner attention and financial support for this far too common affliction. Patel states, “This is not an average charity event/show and that’s exactly how Seth and his wife wanted it to be. I feel like everyone involved, from the network to the people working on the show and the other celebrities who appeared on the show, knew from the get-go exactly what kind of comedy show this was going to be because it involved Seth Rogen. I had a lot of fun working on this production as it was not only an important charity show but also a very funny one. I think that being on a streaming network made things a bit easier for the event, as they were able to get away with riskier content that major networks wouldn’t necessarily allow or be able to broadcast.”

Of course, when it comes to traditional major broadcast networks, Saj is equally well versed. His skill set was utilized by Fox this year for one of their biggest events, Fox’s New Year’s Eve with Steve Harvey: Live From Time’s Square. The production featured live performances by artists such as Snoop Dogg and Sting as well as appearances by Kenan Thompson, Gordon Ramsay, Missy Elliott; the list goes on and on. It’s difficult to think of a time and a location more frenetic than NYC’s Time Square on New Year’s Eve. Adding to the obstacles for 2019’s presentation was the incessant downpour of rain. For a production manager like Patel on a program like this, there are no excuses…only results. While shooting a segment featuring Ken Jeong on top of a bus with Nicole Scherzinger singing Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, the deluge increased. The top of the bus was rigged to be waterproof and two passes were quickly and successfully filmed. This one example is typical of a NYE production in a North East climate. Whatever mother nature brings must be factored in and overcome. Saj confirms, “This was definitely one of the most demanding shows I have done so far in the US. I oversaw and managed all of the pre-taped content, including this as-live shoot which took place on New Year’s Eve involving a double decker sightseeing bus traveling around NYC picking people up to transport them directly into the heart of Times Square for the ball drop.”

While these productions are for the greater good and those in need, no quarter is given when difficulties present themselves…which they always do. Even so, live television holds the greatest attraction for Patel. After an extremely brief foray into the world of Reality TV he transitioned back to live productions. Similar to Improv Comedy, live TV demands the most of a professional and delivers the greatest rush to its participants and audience. Saj admits that once he’s finished a project he finds a way to cut loose and then recharge in order to move onto the next project. He recalls, “Fox’s NYE show required everything the team had and in some very unforgiving weather conditions. Once we finished and changed into some dry clothes, we returned to Time’s Square to watch the madness. It was packed with people, wild and wet. To my surprise, everyone was still out there giving their loudest screams and having the best time! It’s that kind of energy that keeps me motivated.”

Written by Kelly King
Hilarity for Charity and Fox's NYE Reviewed by JaamZIN on 10:06:00 PM Rating: 5
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