Eurovision 2014 behind the scenes: Scarlett Johansson as host?
The Eurovision Song Contest is a massive event and a massive TV-production. For the local broadcasters that take on the responsibility, it is, for most, the largest production they will ever undertake.
This was also the case for DR and Denmark, and the Danish national broadcaster commissioned a documentary crew to document the entire process.
The first episode of the documentary series dealt with the choice of host city. The second episode revolves around the selection of the host(s). The Eurovision team had plenty of ideas, ranging from Hollywood stars to local talent to represent the Danes in front of Europe.
Scarlett Johansson and Connie Nielsen
One of the first requirements stated is that the hosts must be able to speak fluent English, without a heavy Danish accent which sounds very flat. Other keywords include “warmth,” “humor,” “show person,” and “positive.”
The Head of Show, Jan Lagermand Lundme, has Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson at the top of his list, calling it a crazy idea but reasons with her father being Danish, originally from Copenhagen. Scarlett also carries a Danish passport and has family in Denmark, though she does not speak Danish. He even goes as far as searching for Scarlett on Youtube.
The Executive Producer, Pernille Gaardbo, believes Scarlett is too American for the show and is more favorable towards the idea of using Connie Nielsen, another Hollywood actress with Danish roots. Connie also speaks Danish.
But the idea of using Hollywood stars is left behind early on, particularly after a visit by EBU Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand, who comments that the Eurovision Song Contest is the largest show in the world without major stars.
Jon Ola Sand does not believe that the format needs to depend on stars and it would depart from what the contest is.
Castings and tests
While it was up to Jan Lagermand Lundme and Pernille Gaardbo to pick the hosts, Louise Mühlhausen was assigned to come up with realistic options and train the eventual hosts. She goes through every host on payroll at DR and also looks at actors and other personalities in Denmark.
Several familiar faces make it through to the first castings, including Felix Smith, who hosted the 2009, 2010, and 2011 editions of the Danish national selection. He comments that getting the job of hosting Eurovision is the highest you can reach as a host and would not have more to ask for.
Trying something new
The host format is also debated, and the team feels that a standard man-woman set-up would be too boring. Pernille Gaardbo and Jan Lagermand Lundme comment that while the female-female-male setup has been done before, a female-male-male would be new.
They still like the idea of a host couple, and seem quite set on Nikolaj Koppel as one half of the classic look, but want to add something extra. A young guy who can spice things up and is full of personality. This role would eventually end up going to Pilou Asbæk.
For the second castings, the potential hosts are tested in different configurations, to see how they compliment each other. Then, at the final castings, the last configurations are tried out and tested in a studio and Nikolaj Koppel and Lise Rønne impress the Head of Show.
The couple is tested with technical difficulties, simulated with a lost voting feed, and the couple impresses.
The final hosts
The team makes the final decision to have Lise Rønne and Nikolaj Koppel as the classic couple, with Lise in the greenroom and Nikolaj for point giving, while adding Pilou Asbæk as someone who can be in any place, adding personality and being grounded.
It is up to Jan Lagermand Lundme to deliver the big news to the future hosts and they want to attempt keeping it a secret, to build up hype for a big reveal to generate buzz.
This also meant that the hosts could not tell anyone about the happy news, even their friends or families.
The strategy succeeds, as no one figures out the hosts until the big reveal on February 4.