Comedy Central's The Daily Show is donning a brand-new set, so host Jon Stewart will have a hard time griping that there's no money in basic cable, thanks to a design team from Jack Morton Design/PDG, including James Fenhagen (production designer), Larry Hartman (art director), Mike Susol (set graphics designer), Emmet Aiello (illustrator/3D modelmaker), and Chris Boon (draftsperson). The set was constructed by blackwalnut, under principals Jacob Gendelman, Mike Van Dusen, and Patrick Dias, and project director Frank Bradley, with lead installer Nick Franzoso.
“Jon Stewart and his creative team came to Jack Morton Design/PDG to update the look of the show's environment,” says Hartman. “They had already collaborated on the set designs for The Colbert Report and a weeklong Daily Show remote from Ohio State University last October. Now the effort was to capture the show's commentary on the news and the media and show its popularity and global reach, while providing a flexible workspace to accommodate the writing team's wildly creative ideas.”
Hartman notes that the set comes complete with all of the makings of a “serious newsroom,” including world maps, six LED tickers by Nu-media Display Systems, a 46" LCD monitor, control room backgrounds, and a second-story balcony. A 4' globe with an LED ticker at the equator line hangs above the main news desk. More than 560 color LED fixtures — Color Kinetics iColor Cove NXT 12" and 6" fixtures, as well as iColor Cove EC 12" and 7" fixtures — are embedded throughout the scenery, both as practical light sources and as decorative elements.
The set also incorporates a projection system by MooTV, including two Eiki LCXT3 10,000-lumen projectors and custom Stewart — no relation — screen surfaces. A flexible, single-color silicon LED from Takara Media acts as a downlight in front of the news desk. Lighting designer Bob Culley of LightStream Design called for new fixtures, noting that Fenhagen and Hartman's new set is “really a radical change with state-of-the-art tech — a wonderful vision from start to finish.” Supplied by NEP and Scharff Weisberg, the new package includes an ETC Obsession II console to control the LEDs built into the set. “The vision Jim and Larry started with led to more LEDs, so I used 12 ColorBlasts at the base of a glass squares in front of a center Duratrans,” Culley adds. His moving light rig includes Martin MAC 250s, “which add to a high-tech, points-of-light concept,” and ETC Source Four Revolutions, “to add a tungsten moving light to balance a very high-LED look.” The conventional lighting was also amped up with 125 ETC Source Four PARs and ellipsoidals, bringing the conventional count to 250.
Additional crew includes gaffer Eugene Meienhofer, board operator Ryan Phillips, and electrician Charles Viana II. The Daily Show is directed by Chuck O'Neil, with Jill Katz as executive in charge of production.
“Yes, even fake news needs real scenery,” says Hartman.