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Meet inaugural-party guru: Big productions are in New Yorker’s blood

New York Daily News – Ricky Kirshner, the Manhattanite in charge of producing much of Barack Obama’s three-day inaugural shindig, had a burning question for the soon-to-be First Couple on Wednesday.

When they hit the dance floor Tuesday night at the televised Neighborhood Ball (one of 10 the Obamas will be attending), what song do they want playing?

“Are you waltzing? Are you slow-dancing? Do you guys have a special dance that you do?” Kirshner, 48, wondered aloud of the fist-bumping duo.

Welcome to Kirshner’s world, where even the most minute detail of Obama’s historic inaugural is a question to be pondered and resolved. But rest assured – Kirshner will get his answers.

Producing live, big-time events is what Kirshner does best, with a résumé that includes several Super Bowl halftime shows, Tony Awards and the past five Democratic conventions.

That Kirshner has been tapped to make Obama’s inaugural as smooth as the man himself only underscores what should be obvious: Although the inaugural is in Washington, it takes a New Yorker to pull together what is really a three-day public party.

A Yankees fan to the core who grew up in New Jersey but hasn’t left New York since his first job as a gofer for ABC, Kirshner admitted Wednesday to a certain amount of stress, but no nightmares.

“I’ve had no nightmares because I haven’t slept in a month,” he told the Daily News.

“Seriously, I actually wrote a memo to my staff about the 100 things I was thinking about while not sleeping.”

Kirshner, with directing partner Glenn Weiss, is responsible for the “Kids’ Inaugural,” a live concert airing on Disney Channel Monday at 8 p.m. that will feature such ‘tween sensations as the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus.

After that, he’ll turn his attention to the first-ever “Neighborhood Ball,” a postinaugural bash Tuesday intended to include capital residents in the festivities.

Top-shelf performers headlining that gig, to be aired live by ABC at 8 p.m., include Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Faith Hill, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder.

“The good news is that getting talent wasn’t the hard part,” Kirshner said.

In fact, getting the best performance out of big-time acts runs in Kirshner’s blood – his dad is Don Kirshner, the legendary rock producer and promoter.

But for all the flash of the inauguration, the younger Kirshner says he’ll measure his success not by how much notice he gets, but by how little.

“I always like to say that if you see me on TV,” Kirshner said, “there is something seriously wrong.”

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