Halftime Evolves from Marching Bands to the Stones

In the early days, Super Bowl halftime shows were an afterthought: They featured college marching bands and majorettes, or low-key productions with the likes of singer Carol Channing or trumpeter Al Hirt.

Halftime was when America took bathroom breaks.

Then came the 1990s.

Whitney Houston's rousing version of the national anthem in 1991 proved the value of injecting pure star power into the game's broadcast.

The following year, the upstart Fox network shrewdly promoted its hit sketch comedy show "In Living Color" as an alternative to halftime. It even put up a clock to let viewers know when to switch back to the game -- but many did not -- and the NFL knew it was time to reinvent halftime.

'Let's Go Baby!'

In 1993, as 3,500 children gathered in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Michael Jackson body-doubles popped up around the stadium. When the real Jackson appeared onstage, he stood frozen for 75 dramatic seconds. Sweating bullets in the control truck was über-producer Don Michner.

"He was supposed to break his wrist, and that was my cue for the music," Michner said, "and he just stood there and stood there and I said, 'Come on, Michael, let's go baby!' "

He did go … and from that moment on, Super Sunday became the gig. Diana Ross performed in 1996, and then came Aerosmith, N'Sync and Brittney in 2001. There was U2's memorable 9/11 tribute. And of course, no one will forget the great Justin-Janet wardrobe malfunction of 2004.

The NFL brought Michner back to help it recover from the Janet Jackson debacle. He obliged by producing Paul McCartney's halftime show in Jacksonville last year. Tomorrow, he presents the Rolling Stones.

So, is Michner the guy who has to tell the Stones to keep it clean?

"Well, they have the right to do what they want to do," he said. "The NFL has the right to say keep it clean. But basically, the Stones have the creative freedom to decide what they want to do."

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...