'E!  News' returns from existing set with new modular pieces to give it a unique look

‘E! News’ returns from existing set with new modular pieces to give it a unique look

After an absence of over two years, “E! News” has returned to the cable channel, using the same video wall-heavy space as “Access Hollywood” and “Access Daily” on the Universal Studios Hollywood lot but with additional elements to make it its own.

The new “E! News” is a late-night offering that is produced inside Studio G, with additional scenery and furnishings brought in that make it difficult to tell it’s sharing a space with other shows.

Both the “E!” and “Access” brands are owned by NBCUniversal.

Designer set

Access Hollywood

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JPConnelly, who designed the original “Access” franchise set, returned to help reimagine the space for “E!”

Connelly’s original design for the space included large floor-to-ceiling video walls interspersed with scenic elements — some permanent and others that could be moved in and out to vary the look within one or both “Access” shows.

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These elements tended to be more open — such as tall panels with horizontal slats and open shelving units.

For “E! News,” the look centers on more hard scenic elements that are brought in and placed in front of the video walls, creating the illusion that the show has a more structural custom-built space with video walls integrated into the design, a similar approach to how NBCU’s Telemundo enhanced a sports studio with additional scenery and furnishings for daytime talker and a weekend MSNBC show.

These elements include solid wall segments clad with gold grid panels, and dark gray faux marble surrounds with integrated footlights along with vertical edge-lit columns.

That said, the curved video wall in one corner of the studio has been left largely unobscured, making it an idea way to showcase topical imagey shot video on video style.

There is also a large solid scenic element with a dark wood toned-frame and horizontal textural background with an oversized backlit “E!” logo on it. One side of this is a half-circle protruding outward in a convex format, a shape that purposefully disrupts the video wall’s rectangular shape and adds a layered look.

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The other surround, meanwhile, also has the half-circle motif, though it’s done in a concave style, creating a contrast to the solid wall segment and adding an additional unique way to frame the video wall behind.

“E! News,” like “Access,” uses a variety of wide shots done in the video on video style with walk and wander or floating camera approach, so there’s plenty of opportunities to see the space, and an observing viewer can sometimes spot the casters and other support elements that make it possible to easily move scenery in and out for when the show is tapped.

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Because most of the scenery appears to be placed at least a few feet in front of the video walls, when video on video shots are used along with on-air camera moves, the images subtle shift perspective as the angle of the camera and relationship between the hard scenery and video wall changes.

Overall, the space is lit in a darker and more dramatic way, reflecting its late-night timeslot. The floor of the space is notably done in a warmer tone wood than the new scenery uses, but the lighting largely helps to mute the color here as well.

The show also has a new, bar-style desk that’s fronted with a lit “E!” logo mounted on front of the unit’s vertical support pole.

The logo is also featured prominently on one of the gold grid wall coverings.

At the top of the show, co-anchors Adrienne Bailon-Houghton and Justin Sylvester, who have both worked for “E! News” in the past, are shown against a dramatic video wall background depicting bright beams of light and particles moving vertically from top to bottom. The look is somewhat discounting of the show’s mid-2000s highly vertical look creating using multicolored slats.

For in-studio interviews, crews can bring out a collection of fluffy white chairs, sofa and ottomans with nested circular coffee tables set atop of a circular area rug that has the appearance of a geode or other geologic formation. In the premiere edition, this was placed in front of the large “E!” wall, typically with it placed between the guest and hosts.

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The one-shot for the guest wisely features a subtle background with medium and dark gray walls and a bit of edge-lighting, allowing the focus to remain on the celebrity.

However, the two co-hosts are shot the opposite direction, with portions of two different video walls behind them. These were being fed large images of the celeb being interviewed in the premiere show, which didn’t frame up as well on the host one and two-shots as they did in the wide three-shots.

In addition to the new set, the show also features a graphics package that uses a flat style with influences from short-take social media apps such as TikTok.

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The open features a variety of shapes, some solid and some filled with images, that have the feel of digital stickers and accents that are popular in these types of apps. Gradients are also used and the color palette is a mix of dark colors with pops of bright, trendy shades.

The show uses a “Hot 10” rundown-style graphic in sidebar format to tease what’s coming up throughout the entire broadcast, and this, along with the rarely-used lower third inserts, use a mix of round corners, polygons and starburst-style shapes.

Celeb imagery can be shown against a variety of simple colorful backgrounds, as can the poster and key art of shows that are mentioned, with text-filled shape accents used to indicate how and when to watch. Similar shapes are also used to house credits for pull-quotes.

Often these fullscreens slowly shrink and grow on a subtle loop, another nod to the near constant-motion that many video sharing apps often emphasize.

The show also uses the “sticker” approach to cover up the faces of celebrities in an attempt to keep viewers guessing about the subjects of upcoming stories — though it’s often not hard to figure who the person is thanks to verbal clues the anchors give.

A similar layout is used to showcase images culled from social media, although a shot from Kim Kardashian’s Instagram that included her handle on the platform in a purple arrow shape in the lower right failed to account for the “E! News” bug that remained on air for most of the show.

“E! News” was once a hot franchise that accompanied a series of other original programs produced by E!, often from the same somewhat crammed studio.

The show announced in 2019 that it would move shift most production from Los Angeles to New York in 2019. These programs were produced from both inside and outside of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the headquarters of NBC, including sharing studios used by other NBC productions.

The move included expanding offerings and rebranding shows, including launching the morning show “Pop of the Morning.” “Daily Pop” continued to originate from the west coast, while “Nightly Pop” returned with plans to expand from two nights a week to four.

Although these shows did not include “E! News” in their names (instead using the “pop” motif), they were essentially the same offering as “E! News” with some modifications to the looks and hosts.

“In the Room” was later launched as well.

In March of 2020, production of “E! News” was placed on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That hiatus was initially described as “indefinite” but eventually all of the New York-based “E! News” programming was canceled. This was done, at least in part, as part of a broader cost-cutting initiative across NBCU.

NBCU has continued to operate the E! News website in the interim.

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