26 October 2018

Larry Rudolph talks about Domination

Larry Rudoph has talked to Pollstar about Domination and his work with Britney, saying: “She walked into my office with her family when she was 13 years old. They played me some VHS tapes, which shows how long ago it was, of her on the new ‘Mickey Mouse Club’. I didn’t know really anything about it – I’m not talking about Annette Funicello. I thought she had a lot of talent and showed a lot of promise, but she was 13 years old. And if you go back and look at the charts from 1995, you’ll see they were dominated at the time by urban pop. There weren’t any young white females on the pop charts. That had kind of ended a few years earlier with Tiffany.

“We put out the ‘…Baby One More Time’ single in September or October of 1998, and then the album in January of 1999, and both were enormously successful. We were like, if we take Britney to the malls, which is where America lives, and they see her, they’ll connect with her. I remember going to one of these shows at Macy’s Herald Square in New York. We were performing in the middle of the Calvin Klein section and there were underwear racks around us. People were just shopping and not realising that 10 feet away from them was Britney Spears, who was about to become the biggest star in the world. All of a sudden she went from unknown to everybody knowing her. I saw the change day-to-day but it was almost overnight. You would see it go from 5 percent of the house knowing her, to 15 percent, then one in five, to 50 percent, to 75 percent, to 100 percent. By the end of that little tour, in which she only did three or four songs with no production whatsoever, the album opened at #1 and she was a big star on her own. Then we planned for her actual first headlining tour.

“I had been spending quite a bit of time in Las Vegas and seeing a big transition in the demographic patterns. It was moving away from the traditional middle-aged couple getting dinner, seeing a show, doing a little gambling and going to sleep, and moving towards a much younger person with a very different reason for being in Vegas.

“Planet Hollywood’s theatre was a white elephant. When I walked in there, it was dusty and looked like shit. I basically said, ‘Hey, this looks like it hasn’t been touched in 40 years.’ And they basically said, ‘Well that’s because it hasn’t been touched in 40 years.’ So I said, ‘Alright, the only way we’re going to do this theatre and do this new show is if we do get some money for capital improvements. We invested heavily into the production for a show in a 4,400-seat theatre. And we built it the right way. We made it spectacular.

“One night I was standing with Britney backstage and I was walking her to the stage, and as I literally said goodbye to her I said, ‘Oh, and Jay-Z and Beyoncé are sitting in the front row.’ She said, ‘No! What!? Why didn’t you tell me? I can’t go out there.’ And I go, ‘That’s why I didn’t tell you. I didn’t want you to have time to think about it, now just go out and perform.’ And she was like, ‘You motherfucker,’ with a smile on her face. And then of course, she went out and Jay and Beyoncé are sitting right there. And Dave Chappelle was there that night also. But that’s the way it rolled. Everybody wanted to see it.

“We just had our first full session yesterday with NappyTabs for a few hours yesterday morning. We went through our first draft of creatives, We sat down, spitballed ideas and Britney came up with a million of them. They came up with a million ideas. We have a tentative title, narrative, visuals, set lists and everything right now. But it’s far too early to talk about it. I can tell you this: It’s going to different from the Piece of Me show. It’s going to be a little bit more street. A little bit more rhythmic. It’s going to feel a little cooler. But it’s still going to be a classic Britney great hits show. You’ll know every song, the visuals will be incredible, she’ll be at 110 percent in terms of her performance. You’re going to have amazing dancers, costumes, set pieces, video, sound – amazing everything.”