Last week NBC stars came together for a press brunch held at the Universal Studios Hollywood lot. The Knockturnal was on the scene enjoying some bites and getting the scoop from Derek Hough of World Of Dance, America’s Got Talent winner Darci Lynne, and Cari Champion from the upcoming show The Titan Games.
World of Dance was renewed for a third season so we can expect it sometime in 2019.
The Knockturnal: Everyone that is on the show is already so talented. What is something that you as a judge look out for along with Ne-Yo and J-Lo, what do you guys look out for in competitors?
Derek Hough: That’s the thing, you can be the most talented dancer but if you have the wrong choreography or the wrong song or even just the structure of the routine. You know there’s so many different elements that play into a great performance. There’s some people that I know who are amazing dancers but they might not have had a great performance. So we’re looking for innovation, we’ve seen a lot now, so something that we haven’t seen before. How are you going to surprise us and how are you going to take our breath away. What is going to give us that reaction but also a great technique, the musicality, the choreography is also so important and the execution. There’s just so many different elements that when you see it you go ah that’s the one.
The Knockturnal: With so many dances that you guys see what is it about a particular dance that makes you go okay this is it.
Derek Hough: When we’re able to go wow that was amazing and then be like actually the technique wasn’t as strong as we had hoped. The score starts to reveal itself you know versus it just being based off of emotions.
The Knockturnal: Speaking of scores, I know you guys raised the bar up a bit was there a particular reason for that?
Derek Hough: Yeah just raising the stakes you know. It’s 85 and above now instead of just 80 for the first round which is a lot more difficult and it means there’s less people that get through. My favorite part though is the redemption round. This round is so exciting because in the past we’ve lost really great acts in the duels because if two acts that are great go head to head and you don’t wanna lose either of them but we end up having to lose one. There’s been times where I’ve been devastated that we lost an act so this round brings back the top two scoring people that were knocked out. It lets them come back and battle it out and whoever win that redemption round goes through.
The Knockturnal: Is there anything new that will be happening with the stage or the setup on set?
Derek Hough: You know just constantly upping the game. The production team that we have and creative team is so good at what they do. We always want to try and up what we do and make everything feel more.
The Knockturnal: What has it been like working with J-Lo & Ne-Yo this season?
Derek Hough: It’s been so much fun I feel like this season we’ve really had a good time and we’re just so much more relaxed with each other. Just the other day with Jennifer it was funny we were on break and she just turned to me and started asking me these really in depth life questions and when she looks at you it’s like she looking straight into your soul I couldn’t just look away. It’s been awesome though so much fun.
Darci Lynne Farmer is the 14 year old Ventriloquist who won the 12th season of America’s Got Talent. She became the third female ever to win the competition and will now have her own hour-long Christmas special called Darci Lynne: My Hometown Christmas. The program is set to air December 11th on NBC and feature Kristin Chenoweth, Toby Keith, Hunter Hayes, and Lindsey Stirling.
The Knockturnal: How has the whole experience after winning AGT been like?
Darci: It’s been amazing, I’ve been touring I got to film my own Christmas special. I’m gonna be at the Christmas tree lighting and I’m about to be on AGT: The Champions so it’s led me to so many great things.
The Knockturnal: When you first started AGT did you ever think you were gonna have a chance at winning?
Darci: No I mean going through everyone would tease me and my family would joke and be like ladies and gentlemen the winner of America’s Got Talent. Never thought anything of it I was just happy to be there but when it came down to two of us I was like oh my gosh maybe I have a chance but then you question yourself and you’re like no this is not happening. Second place is great too.
The Knockturnal: How excited are you for your Christmas special?
Darcy: Very very excited. I’ve never had a Christmas special before it’s so crazy to me.
The Knockturnal: Now tell us a little bit about how you get started with ventriloquism.
Darci: I got started back when I was 10. I met a girl who did and I just wanted to try it. I was like that looks like so much fun and I was just amazed it was like seeing a magic trick for the first time and I had never heard of it before so I wanted to try it. I asked her for tips and I practiced with my bear and taught myself how to do it. I asked for a puppet my parents said no but I begged and begged and got one for my 10th birthday. They thought it would be a passing fad. Nope, and here I am. I decided to go on America’s Got Talent when I was 12.
The Knockturnal: It’s so different and unique.
Darci: Yeah not many people can do it.
Most notably known as co-anchor of ESPN’s coast-to-coast edition of “SportsCenter” and previous co-host of “SportsNation,” Cari Champion will now report on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s new competition show The Titan Games. We can expect adrenaline and fierce competitors once the show debuts Thursday, Jan. 3 from 8-10 p.m.
The Knockturnal: So let’s talk the Titan Games. How has the transition from sports to now reporting on this show been?
Cari Champion: I love it! It was a great opportunity for me because I get to hone my reporting skills since I anchor. Two, I really felt like I watch a lot of TV I understand the competition shows I know how it works but this one for me felt really special. Every person I talked to I connected with and it felt really special. There were very inspiring stories. They were like your neighbor or my neighbor who are people like us but had the will to do a little bit more and it was just a simple reminder and I mean it sounds cliche but it’s a reminder that you can do anything you set your mind on.
The Knockturnal: What do you think sets The Titan Games apart from other competition shows?
Cari Champion: I feel like the difference is that The Rock was really hands on and he helped build the challenges based on his personal workouts that he felt were tough. These people all have an element of The Rock. They all have this element of being better and physical activity changing their life. Their stories were incredible. Some people were really not supposed to be here. They were diagnosed with a heart disease early on in life and the doctors said you shouldn’t work out you should take it easy. Instead of doing what the doctors say they did the opposite and began to work out and challenged themselves and they took it to the next level. For them being here is the ultimate challenge.
The Knockturnal: How tough are the challenges are there many obstacles?
Cari Champion: Oh yes the obstacle courses are ridiculously challenging. They have several ones and they come up with different names but essentially you are using all of your physical energy for them. The main challenge is the Mount Olympus. So you compete in various different challenges and if you beat your competitor you then go to the next round and the next round and the final round is what they call the Mount Olympus and it’s this huge mountain where you are climbing higher and higher and higher. You are doing like 8 challenges in two minutes and you are watching the person you are competing against right next to you. So it’s almost like a relay race. Think of the most physical workout you can possibly do at the gym but on steroids.
The Knockturnal: That sounds so intense.
Cari Champion: Just imagine competing every single day until you get to the very end. Whoever wins their body has so much strength. You have people that have injuries and kept going it was literally blood, sweat, and tears. People were competing so, so hard and they didn’t start.
The Knockturnal: What is the dynamic is it two people at a time or?
Cari Champion: Two people at a time. It’s 12 guys 12 girls I believe but the women compete against the women and the men compete against the men and at the end one man and one woman are crowned Titan.
The Knockturnal: How have the contestants been so far?
Cari Champion: Actually I have to be honest the women were much more competitive than the men. These challenges only last about a minute or two and we had a few instances where the women went over 15 minutes. It was intense you are on the edge of your seat the entire time because you don’t know who is gonna win. Honestly it was like watching a movie and then you find out that some of these competitors have been through some tough things and have unique stories. One of the women in this particular competition was homeless and she worked her way up to getting herself back on her feet. Everybody’s story is so unique.
The Knockturnal: What are the prizes? If there is any at all?
Cari Champion: Well there aren’t prizes per se. Once you get the title you get the exposure and people are inspired by your story. You are battling to become a titan it’s all about the sweat equity and what comes next of this. Dwayne is very big on work ethic he tells a story of being at a point with only $7 in his pocket. Can you imagine?
The Knockturnal: What is it like working with The Rock?
Cari Champion: He’s so sweet. I wasn’t even prepared for him to be so kind he’s so sweet and he’s so generous with his time. He jokes around and he’s an average guy it was a really wonderful experience for me.