Latest Buzz goes live

Tween hit brings in a crowd and Emmy winner Brian Richards

The season one premiere of The Latest Buzz pulled in Family Channel’s highest ratings for a debut in its 20-year history, and, on Friday, the show again breaks new ground by filming live.

‘We wanted the full multi-cam experience,’ says series creator Brent Piaskoski.

Tapped to helm the live-to-tape episode is Emmy winner Brian Richards, director on live efforts The Drew Carey Show and Everybody Loves Raymond.

A multi-cam tween-focused sitcom, Buzz follows five grade nine students as they rejuvenate a struggling teen magazine — it’s ‘a Friends for tweens.’ Produced by Decode Entertainment with Family Channel, work on the show’s second season started last week.

Written by Piaskoski, the live episode will film in front of 130-plus kids, with 40 tickets given to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto. Some 19,000 viewers also entered online in hope of getting a walk-on appearance.

Filming live brings new challenges.

‘It’s not like we could just bring in bleachers,’ for seating, says Piaskoski. ‘From mic-ing the audience, to needing splitters and about 10 extra crew on hand, Brian knew what to do.’

The live episode takes place in one day, to minimize wardrobe changes, and is set in one spot.

‘We don’t have a real big studio, and it wouldn’t make sense to have the audience traipse around,’ he says.

Because the ep will air in 2009 as part of season three, the live audience won’t have seen season two yet, something Piaskoski kept in mind when writing.

‘They may get one spoiler, but we didn’t give away anything too huge,’ he says.

The audience will see parts of the writing and editing process first-hand at the taping.

‘We’re going to hang monitors and the editors will be cutting the show for the audience,’ explains Piaskoski. ‘Our writers will also be live on the floor, so if a joke doesn’t work they can pitch out others for better audience reaction. It’s a great opportunity.’