Longtime South Bay Resident Bob Bain Brings the Teen Choice Awards to Hermosa Beach for the First Time

Take it home.

  • Category
  • Interviewed by
    Darren Elms
  • Photographed by
    Shane O’Donnell

The Teen Choice Awards first handed out their signature surfboards to winners back 20 years ago with Britney Spears, NSYNC and Blink-182 taking the stage. This year the event will take over a section of Hermosa Beach and will be televised live on FOX on August 11. Creator and executive producer Bob Bain was instrumental in bringing the awards to the South Bay, a place he’s called home for the past 40 years. We wanted to know just what it takes to produce a televised event of this scale at the beach.

Bob, when did you first fall in love with L.A.?

In high school, growing up in Indiana in the dead of winter and watching the Rose Bowl. It just seemed like the promised land. When I went to college at Indiana University, I played in a rock band. After graduation we all moved out to L.A. to be rock stars! Two years of that was plenty, so then I went to law school at USC. I practiced as an entertainment lawyer and then moved into business affairs at the studios and from there segued into production.

What inspired you to create the Teen Choice Awards?

Living in Manhattan Beach, where I still live, raising three kids at the beach and watching them and their friends enjoy the Southern California beach lifestyle. This is exactly what attracted me to L.A. in the first place. At the time there was no major media event geared toward teens, and I saw an opportunity in the television landscape. I conceived the event and how it could work and pitched it to FOX, where I had strong relationships. They thought it was a great idea and gave me the green light. It started on a smaller scale at The Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, and the rest is history. Teen Choice has run on FOX for 20 consecutive years.

How did you end up choosing Hermosa for the event?

I had always wanted to produce Teen Choice at the beach. Conceptually it’s a beach lifestyle event, but because of its summer broadcast window we never felt like we’d be allowed to stage it at the beach. We did try previously but learned that any beaches in L.A. that are controlled by the county prohibit events like this between Memorial Day and Labor Day, which is the exact time frame that makes sense for broadcast.

After 20 years of producing Teen Choice, I had a conversation with some South Bay residents who happen to work with the city of Hermosa and was informed for the first time that, unlike other towns in L.A. County, the city of Hermosa owns its own beach and pier. So Hermosa had the right to authorize this kind of event, as opposed to, say, Malibu or Santa Monica. We went through all the proper channels and started working in earnest with the city of Hermosa Beach last October to try to make it work.

How will the event incorporate the California beach lifestyle?

What we’re trying to show is everything that happens on a summer day at the beach, and that will manifest in all the visual elements—including specific original content, on-air bumpers and graphics as well as background visuals. You’ll see things like customized surfing and windsurfing on Teen Choice boards and so much more—virtually every activity you can experience at the beach will be customized for the show. To me, that’s what makes this setting so compelling. There is no other awards show that I know of that has ever done this.

Unlike a proscenium-style theatre or arena, the visual opportunities here are limitless. We’re planning everything from GoPros and drones to fly-by banners and helicopters. It’s a national broadcast, and comparatively only a small number of people who live here can actually attend. But we want everyone watching from home—in Indiana like I was or in any other place—to feel the SoCal teen lifestyle.

Were there significant hurdles planning a televised event on a bustling local beach?

This is a big-budget show with thousands of people in a contained space, so that definitely poses challenges and hurdles—most of which are about logistics. For example, we’re banking on the fact that it’s not going to rain in Southern California in August. But all the elements must be planned for; even wind and cloudiness have an impact on production and creative.

We want this to feel like we’ve just dropped into a typical Southern California Sunday afternoon at the beach, and to achieve that all logistics must be seamless. That includes security, parking and coordination with local vendors. We have a red carpet going right down the promenade, and we have to make sure people still have access to those businesses. All major precautions must be taken: police, medical, lifeguards, all emergency personnel, which of course are required both by the city and the network.

Anything new and fun we can expect at this year’s ceremony?

Everything! We are planning to deliver at the highest levels of entertainment and utilize the unique environment that is the Southern California and South Bay beach lifestyle.

Can locals get close to the event to check it out?

Yes. The event was conceived from the beginning to include participation of locals. We’ll be there on location shooting for days before and plan to work with a lot of locals. It’s their beach, so really it’s their event. Attendance by the community is a huge part of this for production—and for me personally, as a 40-year South Bay resident.