SHOOTING STARS: Fox rings in 2011 — in 2010

Whither the weather?

That’s the only real question mark surrounding Fox’s “New Year’s Eve Live” broadcast bash, which is set to go live from the Mandalay Bay pool area from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Friday. (As always, the show will be live to the East Coast — and tape-delayed on KVVU-TV, Channel 5 for local viewers.)

After all, Fox did the show from the same venue last New Year’s Eve, “so we have gone through the ‘teething’ process,” notes producer Paul Flattery of Bob Bain Productions. “Our production team has been through it all before and so they are able to find ways to make the behind-the-scenes process go even smoother.”

In addition to building a platform over the pool “to get the audience in front of the stage,” this year’s show will feature a performance area for the Jabbawockeez dance crew, who are scheduled to perform along with Plain White Ts, Travie McCoy and David Archuleta. Nancy O’Dell (pictured) hosts the show;  Brandy serves as a special correspondent roaming the Vegas streets during the celebration.

While the show’s designed to help launch the new year for East Coast viewers, it serves as a first stop for local revelers.

“If you’re going to go out on the Strip, you might as well start with us,” observes executive producer Bob Bain, who notes there’s room for 2,000 to 3,000 partyers at the Mandalay Bay pool. (Show up at Mandalay Bay by 6 p.m. if you want to join the party.)

“We were a little shy of that last year,” Bain says of a capacity crowd. This year, however, “we anticipate an even bigger audience.”

And even if the weather doesn’t cooperate (the local forecast calls for sunny skies on New Year’s Eve, showers on New Year’s Day), and “that’s always a concern for us on the ground,” Flattery says, “there isn’t really any problem with the TV audience,” because “we give them top entertainers and shoot it in a creative and exciting way.”

Bain’s “a great believer in showing the on-site audience enjoying themselves, whether that’s singing along to the artists, or just generally looking happy to be there,” Flattery notes. “So he sits in the video truck with our director, Michael Dempsey, and pays particular attention to that aspect of the show’s visuals.”

And because “it’s live, you only get the one shot at that,” the producer adds, “so that is a very important factor to get right.”

Not that it’s much of a problem, thanks to Las Vegas’ built-in party vibe.

“Las Vegas is a great location for any entertainment special, anytime, not just at New Year’s,” Flattery contends. “People come to Las Vegas to enjoy themselves, so you have an audience that wants to be entertained and wants to have a good time. Add the New Year’s Eve celebrations into the mix and you multiply that tenfold.”

Brandy’s (pictured) role as on-the-street correspondent is likely to help the show capture some of the on-the-Strip party — without the wild-card aspect of trying to do the whole show from there.

“It would be more complicated if we were on the Strip,” Bain acknowledges. Unlike the controlled production environment at the Mandalay Bay pool, “it’s kind of all-gloves-off” out on the Strip.

And, despite the Vegas vibe, Fox’s TV bash will make room for cutaways to New York’s Times Square for the official ball drop and other traditional festivities.

“We’ll be traveling in sync with New York,” Bain says of the show. After all, “the bulk of viewers nationally are back there.”

Besides, Las Vegas revelers never watch the clock too closely ... because it’s always party time in Pair-a-dice.

And with that, it’s time to ring down the the curtain on another year of Shooting Stars. Thanks for tuning in; we’ll be back next week with previews of some of 2011’s coming attractions.