Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga Partner With ViacomCBS for Three Specials, to Air on CBS, MTV and Paramount
Lady Gaga (Left) and Tony Bennett (Right)
Courtesy of ViacomCBS
The rollout for Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s second and final collaborative album, “Love for Sale,” will include saturation-level broadcast components in the months to come, as the pair have partnered with ViacomCBS for three different specials, with CBS, MTV Entertainment Group and Paramount Plus. Among them is Bennett’s return to the “MTV Unplugged” franchise that gave his career a major comeback boost, this time with Gaga in tow.
The first special out of the gate will be “One Last Time: An Evening With Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga,” to air on CBS the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The hour-long show is the filmed rendering of the two concerts the pair did at Radio City Music Hall in August, billed as Bennett’s final public performances, the first night of which coincided with his 95th birthday. Beyond its CBS berth, the show will be available for streaming on the Paramount Plus service.
Next up is “MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga,” pegged for winter with no confirmed air date yet. The show was filmed with an intimate studio audience in New York City around the time of August’s Radio City Music Hall performances. That branding played a major role in Bennett’s career almost three decades ago when his first “MTV Unplugged” special was turned into a surprise-hit 1994 album that went on to win the 1995 Grammy for album of the year. “Tony Bennett’s resurgence began in the ’90s with his ‘MTV Unplugged’ and it’s timely that the last chapter ends on the same note,” said Bennett’s son and longtime manager, Danny Bennett.
Last in the three-special rollout will be a documentary, “The Lady and the Legend,” available exclusively via Paramount Plus, also with a premiere date yet to be announced.
Described as providing “an intimate look into a beautiful friendship and musical partnership that transcends generations,” the special will include footage from the making of the “Love for Sale” album as well as their first full-length collaboration, 2014’s “Cheek to Cheek,” and going back to their first fruitful meeting in 2011.
The deal being announced today will also include a series of music video premieres, including the MTV debut of a clip for the “Love for Sale” album’s title track this Friday at noon ET. MTV previously premiered the first single from the album, “I Get a Kick Out of You.”
The “Love for Sale” album arrives via the label partnership of Columbia Records/Interscope, on Oct. 1 and includes solo tracks from both artists as well as duets.
“We are honored to partner with the legendary Tony Bennett and the iconic Lady Gaga for ViacomCBS’ biggest cross-platform music talent collaboration to date,” said Bruce Gillmer, chief content officer of music for Paramount Plus and president of music, music talent, programming and events for ViacomCBS, in a statement. “With the sweeping range of our unique brands and platforms, ViacomCBS offers an unparalleled one-stop shop for artists to showcase their global music releases and creative content of all varieties.”
Said Danny Bennett, “The ViacomCBS 360 partnership is innovative and clearly ahead of its time. It serves as an indication of what the future holds for the entire entertainment industry at large. The ‘one stop shopping’ aspect of the partnership gives us the unprecedented ability to seamlessly launch and market ‘Love For Sale’ on a global basis. Bob Bakish and Bruce Gillmer understood and shared our vision and the historic nature of this project.”
Bobby Campbell, Gaga’s manager, said, “MTV has been part of Tony Bennett’s story since the ’90s and has been the home to some of the most iconic Lady Gaga moments consistently over her career. We are proud to partner with ViacomCBS to bring the experience of ‘Love For Sale’ to the world across platforms and generations.”
Although Bennett remains in good shape as a performer at 95, his family announced he would cease performing after the Radio City Music Hall farewell shows due to the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed with the cognitive disorder in 2016 but the family did not reveal it until February of this year, as the legend had continued to successfully maintain a concert schedule up through the end of 2020.
Variety's Chris Willman contributed to this post.