‘That’s My Jam España’: how a great television ‘show’ is put together

On the outskirts of Madrid, giant warehouses that are filming sites line the same street. In one of them it has been recorded since February That ́s My Jam Spain, the adaptation of the NBC show hosted and produced by Jimmy Fallon. On television there are many visual tricks to make small spaces gain depth, but this is really a large format set. “It is a scenographic display and also equal to the original,” says Arturo Valls, with a perennial smile. The Spanish version of Fallon’s show, which will pit celebrities against each other in a music-based competition, premieres on Movistar Plus+ on October 2, with Valls as presenter and co-producer, together with the platform and LaCoproductora.

It was the presenter who at the beginning of last year found out that NBC was selling the format for adaptation to other countries. He then spoke with Jorge Pezzi, co-founder of LaCoproductora (audiovisual production company of PRISA, publishing company of EL PAÍS) and he sent an email to Los Angeles, where the network is based. Pezzi explains that they arrived at the right time: “They were just negotiating the format and what convinced them was that we had the perfect presenter.” Pezzi refers to Valls’ charisma, but also to the fact that he would serve as producer, a double role that Fallon also plays in the original program.

Valls sensed that it was a project “related” to his style and that the adaptation would be “organic.” What motivated him most to go for the program was the music: “A live band is something very unusual in entertainment formats in Spain, the fact that it has so much relevance seemed fundamental to me; It’s like a schoolyard to me.” The presenter confesses that he would have liked to have had a group in his youth and that sometimes he sings at his house, even though they ask him to be quiet. He is going to take advantage of the opportunity to make his first steps under the baton of Víctor Elías, musical director of the program.

Valls and Pezzi knew of Movistar Plus+’s interest in this format, so the alliance was easily strengthened. Ángel Ayllón, Entertainment Manager of the platform, says that the program “has all the fundamental elements that a show needs: humor, music and celebrities”. Couples face off in fun challenges in which they must show their musical skills and knowledge. “And it comes from the hand of Arturo Valls, who is a number one,” Ayllón concludes.

Fallon himself and NBC have followed the adaptation process, but the three agree that it is not something that has intimidated them, but that they have felt “accompanied.” Although Valls clarifies that “they have almost invented entertainment” and sometimes that makes it difficult to question them.

Arturo Valls with the band during the filming of 'That's My Jam Spain" in February.
Arturo Valls with the band during the filming of ‘That’s My Jam España’ in February.Álvaro García (Álvaro García)

Although there is a referential model, they have been “very attentive to Spanishization.” Spanishization means thinking of homemade gags, but also tweaking the rhythm and even the format itself. Sections of the American program happen at the speed of a click and That ́s My Jam Spain It has slowed down this fast-paced happening of things. Additionally, they have changed the test scoring system. In the original the final competition was decisive, regardless of the scores obtained before. In the Spanish version, victory is achieved by accumulation of points.

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Valls confesses, before leaving, that in a first season the most difficult thing to organize is precisely the participants, or the talents, as they are called in the jargon. “You have to have your agenda and friends.” For the first program, whose recording EL PAÍS attended, they summoned the singers Nathy Peluso, Rigoberta Bandini and Amaia. Also to the actor Paco León. The four of them stopped by to get to know the stage, greet the band and warm up their voices a little before going to change their clothes and put on their makeup. Later they left the public and the technicians speechless with the performances that are interspersed in the competition and in which they cover very popular songs from different genres.

Rigoberta Bandini (left) and Amaia, dressed up in one of the Spanish 'That's My Jam' shows.
Rigoberta Bandini (left) and Amaia, dressed up in one of the Spanish ‘That’s My Jam’ shows.alvaro garcia

About 120 people work at That ́s My Jam Spain. On a day of filming, everyone on the set talks, all the time. The musicians warm up, the cameras are placed in their place and an entertainer is in charge of eliminating the shyness of the audience, who arrives a little lethargic. There is no shout of “silence”, but it is clear that there is an order through the earpieces because from one moment to the next everything begins to move in a coordinated and agile manner: they have just mopped the set, the audience bursts into applause, the The band starts playing and Valls jumps energetically on stage. It seems that they are going to continue recording at a stretch, but something has gone wrong and they are going to repeat it.

There are several hours of recording left. They will repeat the start a couple more times, but the couples’ competition will take place without cheating or cardboard. Since that first email was sent until viewers enjoy the program, a year and a half of work will have passed. This is how a great show of TV.

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