The set is a key component of any television show. It’s a sometimes subtle, yet always vital backdrop upon which the characters play out their story. After all, what would Nickelodeon’s School of Rock be without a classroom setting, musical instruments and preppy school uniforms?
“Our sets are works of art,” said Patrick Garney, senior director of production for live-action series production at Nickelodeon, where he has worked since 2002.
Nick, like other Viacom brands, reuses these painstakingly designed sets wherever it can, so the keen-eyed may notice items from sketch-comedy classic All That tucked into the background of the network’s newer shows.
“We have an incredible reputation for making sure things get second, third and fourth lives,” said Garney. “Past that, we try incredibly hard to match items with local charities; lastly, we send them to charity thrift stores.”
If outdated items cannot be re-purposed for one of the aforementioned categories, the last resort is to send them to the Dumpster. But Nickelodeon employees from various departments have worked to insert another option for old sets: donating the facades, along with any other useful material—props, hardware, etc.—to theater departments at Los Angeles public schools and select charities, an extra step that benefits not only the community and the environment, but, by cutting down on disposal fees, Nickelodeon and Viacom.
Lee Ann Larsen, executive vice president of production and live action for Nickelodeon, was impressed by the concept when a member of Garney’s team first pitched it to her.
“I immediately said yes,” said Larsen. “Our goal in the production department is always to be cognizant of the environment, and to encourage sustainability efforts.”