BEYONC�, TONY BENNETT, NEIL BOYD, JONAS BROTHERS, HARRY CONNICK JR., DAVID COOK, ROSIE O'DONNELL AND THE BROADWAY KIDS, FAITH HILL, RASCAL FLATTS, AND SOLANGE KNOWLES KICKS OFF THE HOLIDAY SEASON FOR NBC'S 11TH ANNUAL 'CHRISTMAS IN ROCKEFELLER CENTER
Al Roker ("Today") to Host Live Holiday Special for the Celebration of the 76TH Tree Lighting Ceremony
NEW YORK - November 13, 2008 - NBC kicks off the holiday season on Wednesday, December 3 (8-9 p.m. ET/PT) with a dazzling display of musical talent and the lighting of the world's most famous Christmas tree during the 11th annual "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" telecast. Hosted by Al Roker ("Today"), the star-studded annual tree lighting extravaganza will feature Beyonc�, Tony Bennett, Neil Boyd, Jonas Brothers, Harry Connick Jr., David Cook, Rosie O'Donnell and The Broadway Kids, Faith Hill, Rascal Flatts, and Solange Knowles performing current hits and holiday classics from Rockefeller Center in New York City.
Broadcast again in high definition, viewers can expect holiday greetings from many of their favorite NBC stars along with other surprises as the most famous Christmas tree in the world is lit. NBC's New York flagship station WNBC, and the NBC Hartford station WVIT, will both broadcast an additional live hour of the special locally from 7-8 p.m. prior to the start of the network broadcast.
"Christmas in Rockefeller Center" is produced by Universal Media Studios Bob Holmes is the executive producer.
The tradition of the Rockefeller Christmas tree dates back to the Great Depression. First erected in 1933, the tree was decked with 700 lights and placed in front of the then eight-month-old RCA Building, now the GE Building. The Christmas tree gathering was enhanced in 1936 with the opening of the Rockefeller Plaza outdoor ice-skating pond. NBC-TV televised the first tree lighting in 1951 on "The Kate Smith Show" and as part of the nationwide "Howdy Doody" television show from 1953-55.
ABOUT THE PERFORMERS
One of 2008's most anticipated new album releases, "I AM... SASHA FIERCE" is Beyonc�'s first new studio collection since her Grammy-winning multi-platinum-selling "B'DAY" debuted at #1 on charts around the world shortly after its international release on September 4, 2006 (in celebration of Beyonc�'s 25th birthday). Each of the discs on Beyonc�'s new double album reveals a distinctly different side of her personality, character and sensibility, a forum for the yin-and-yang of her developing artistry. One of the discs, titled "I AM...", provides Beyonc� with a musical showcase for a group of intimate heartfelt ballads while the "SASHA FIERCE" disc gives voice to Beyonc�'s up-tempo dance-oriented other side. "SASHA FIERCE is my alter ego," says Beyonc�, "and now she has a last name. I have someone else that takes over when it's time for me to work and when I'm on stage, this alter ego that I've created that kind of protects me and who I really am. That's why half the record, "I AM...", is about who I am underneath all the makeup, underneath the lights, and underneath all the exciting star drama. And SASHA FIERCE is the fun, more sensual, more aggressive, more outspoken side and more glamorous side that comes out when I'm working and when I'm on the stage. The double album allows me to take more risks and really step out of myself, or shall I say, step more into myself, and reveal a side of me that people who only know me see."
Tony Bennett the world's most boyish octogenarian, a vital musical artist at the peak of his powers, Tony Bennett is living proof that fairy tales can indeed come true when you're young at heart. With over 50 million records sold world-wide and platinum and gold albums to his credit, Bennett has received fifteen Grammy Awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He has crossed generational lines, being embraced by the MTV generation due to his unforgettable "MTV Unplugged" episode and the resulting recording of the same name, which garnered the singer Grammy's top award, "Album of the Year." Bennett became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2005, was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2006, and was recently named the recipient of Billboard Magazine's prestigious Century Award, in honor of his outstanding contributions to music. He was won two Emmy Awards and a Cable Ace Award. "Duets - An American Classic," became his highest charting and best-selling album to date, and won three Grammy Awards. The companion NBC television special "Tony Bennett: An American Classic," earned Rob Marshall a Directors Guild Award for his and scored Bennett his second Emmy with the special itself winning 7 Emmys -- making it the most honored television program of 2007. The DVD version of the special earned platinum sales status. His most recent CD releases include "Tony Bennett Sings The Ultimate American Songbook, Vol. 1" and a deluxe version of his beloved holiday recording, "Snowfall."
Jonas Brothers, the last year has been all whirlwind, all the time. Yet somehow, on the road to becoming a pop culture phenomenon, the trio never broke a sweat - other than on the stage, giving their all, and living their dream. If anything, Jonas Brothers have embodied the calm within the storm. And since the release of their 2007 self-titled platinum CD, Kevin, Joe and Nick have used their time wisely. As they prove on their new Hollywood Records CD, "A Little Bit Longer," Jonas Brothers have grown exponentially as songwriters, musicians and recording artists. With the August 2007 release of their Hollywood debut, nothing more stood in their way. Their premiere single, "S.O.S.," quickly hit #1 on iTunes. In most cities on their "Look Me In The Eyes" headline tour, concerts sold out in minutes. They shot their own reality TV series, "Jonas Brothers - Living the Dream." The brothers recently starred in the Disney Channel original movie, "Camp Rock," which averaged 8.9 million viewers and was the network's most-watched non-sequel movie ever. Jonas Brothers debuted their "Burnin' Up" video following the debut of Camp Rock on Disney Channel (with a repeat the following night on ABC) to over 12.5 million television viewers, and over a million views on YouTube. The "Burnin' Up" video immediately shot to # 1 on iTunes. Coming up, Jonas Brothers have their own Disney Channel comedy series this fall, titled "J.O.N.A.S."
Harry Connick, Jr. has proven to be among the world's most successful and multi-talented artists with album sales of over 25 million, three Grammy awards, an Emmy award, and Tony nominations. Connick's latest album, "What a Night! - A Christmas Album," is his first full-length release since his 2007, "Oh, MY NOLA," which debuted at #1 on the Billboard jazz chart and #11 on the Billboard 200. "What a Night! - A Christmas Album," includes "Song for the Hopeful," a duet with Gospel Star Kim Burrell, and written by Connick for his Lifetime film "Living Proof". Connick achieved widespread success as a musician when director Rob Reiner asked him to contribute the score to his 1989 smash When Harry Met Sally, leading to Connick's first multi-platinum album (also his first big band recording.) Recent years have seen further triumphs, including his Grammy-winning reflection on favorite music of his youth. After making his acting debut in Memphis Belle in 1990, he has also appeared in Little Man Tate, Copycat, Independence Day, Hope Floats, John Grisham's Mickey, and William Friedkin's Bug. His latest role in P.S., I Love You finds him cast opposite two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank. In 2009 he will co-star with another Oscar winning actress, Renee Zellweger, in Chilled in Miami. His music has also contributed to the success of such films as Godfather III, Sleepless in Seattle and The Mask.
David Cook, seventh season winner of "American Idol," rewrote chart history with a record-breaking 14 debuts on Billboard's Hot Digital Songs survey just one week after being named the winner. Cook also had 11 songs jump onto the Hot 100, the highest number of new entries ever, and the second-highest amount of simultaneous hits since the Beatles in 1964. All that, and his single, "The Time of My Life," instantly became the highest debuting title of 2008, entering the Hot 100 at No. 3. Cook's latest self-titled album, produced by Rob www.Cavallo, will be released on November 18, 2008 featuring hit song, "Light On."
Rock-it Science Records is an independent record label based in New York City co-founded by Broadway performer and producer Lynn Pinto. RSR produces recordings for members of the Broadway community and Broadway's leading charity, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Rock-It Science Records presents Broadway's Greatest Gifts: Carols for a Cure, Volume 10. Featuring highlights from the Volumes 1-9, as well as the incredible talents of stars from the 2008 Broadway season, the annual holiday CD benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA). This two-disc set offers 36 original and traditional holiday songs recorded especially for this benefit CD, and features the cast of Billy Elliot with the premiere of an original song by Elton John, "Cold Christmas." Included are the voices of Antonio Banderas, Harvey Fierstein, Idina Menzel, Bernadette Peters, and Andr�a Burns, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Michael Longoria, Nick Jonas and American Idol's Constantine Maroulis and Ace Young, plus new recordings with performances by stars from In the Heights, South Pacific, Wicked plus many more! Also performing on this year's CD are Rosie O'Donnell and Rosie's Broadway Kids, young students in the performing arts program founded by Rosie O'Donnell.
Rosie O'Donnell has taken her popularity and put it to good use. As a tireless crusader for children, she established the "Rosie's For All Kids Foundation," in 1997. Since its inception, the foundation has raised more than $60 million and awarded more than $27 million dollars in grants to over 1,400 child-related non-profit organizations to benefit low income families across the country. In 2005, Ms. O'Donnell established a fund to provide $3 million dollars to children and families displaced by Katrina which, among other projects built the first-ever childcare facility in a FEMA housing site, at Renaissance Village in Louisiana. In 2003, Ms. O'Donnell established "Rosie's Broadway Kids," a program that provides free in-school, after-school and summer instruction in musical theater to the public school children of New York. In 2008, Rosie's Broadway Kids will open the doors to their new home, Maravel Arts Center, a performing arts school in the heart of New York City's theater district. Rosie has signed on to star in and executive produce the poignant new Lifetime Original Movie, "America," premiering in February 2009. Based on E.R. Frank's book of the same name, the film follows the story of a boy named America, an emotionally vacant sixteen-year-old, who spent his entire life shuffled through the foster care system. Ms. O'Donnell was last seen as moderator on the tenth season of ABC's "The View." In May of 2007, Time Magazine named Ms. O'Donnell one of the one hundred most influential people in the world for their "Time 100" cover story. In October of 2007, she released her second book called Celebrity Detox, which became her second New York Times Bestseller. She also reprised her role as 'Dawn Budge' in FX's acclaimed series "Nip/Tuck." Rosie's third book, Crafty U was published by Simon & Schuster and released on April 8, 2008. Last spring, Rosie performed in a limited engagement of "No No Nanette" on Broadway, and last summer, Rosie rejoined the second annual True Colors tour, alongside founder, Cyndi Lauper, and other artists.
Country music superstar, Faith Hill, will also perform at this year's ceremony. Hill has sold over 35 million records and accumulated eleven number-one singles on the Country charts. "Joy To The World", Hill's latest album, has crafted a one-of-a-kind Christmas record, freshly conceived yet anchored in tradition. It is a loving tribute to both the spirit and the music of Christmas, one that pays tribute to the classics. "With this album," says Faith Hill, "I wanted you to be able to feel Christmas; for it to bring back childhood memories of Christmas." With "Joy To The World", Hill has accomplished the very difficult task of pleasing both the artist and the little girl in front of the TV set in Star, Mississippi. For fans everywhere, it will be a welcome addition to the spirit of that most wonderful of seasons. Hill's accomplishments also include being honored by the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music, the Grammy Awards, the American Music Awards and the People's Choice Awards. Her Soul2Soul II Tour 2006 with husband Tim McGraw became the highest-grossing country tour of all time.
Since their career launched in 2000, Rascal Flatts has sold over 17 million albums, scored 9 #1 singles and 17 top 10 hits and each of their five albums are multi-platinum sellers. On October 28, the group will launch their first hits package- Greatest Hits, Vol 1. They are the reigning AMA, CMT, ACM and CMA Vocal Group of The Year and were honored as the 2008 Academy of Country Music/The Home Depot� Humanitarian Award recipients. This honor, in part, due to their dedication to raising funds for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, where in the past 4 years they have donated 3 million dollars, as well as their work on the American Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet board and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Solange, American singer-songwriter, released her second studio album "SoL-AngeL and The Hadley St. Dreams" in 2008 and debuted top ten on the Billboard 200 Chart and #3 on Billboard's R&B/ Hip-Hop albums chart. Its lead single "I Decided" was released in April 2008, and has reached the #1 position of the Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Sales charts. Solange is also a talented writer, including co-writing Beyonce's "Get Me Bodied" and "Upgrade You" off of her B'Day album, Kelly Rowland's "Love" off of her second album, and Ms. Kelly and Michelle Williams' latest first single "We Break the Dawn" off of her current cd, "Unexpected". Aside from recording, Knowles has ventured to film, modeling, and entrepreneurship. She executive produced a line of children's toys and cds called Baby Jamz with her father. Baby Jamz is the first ever rhythm inspired preschool toy line promoting creativity, learning and movement through music. Solange also sang on many of the updated classic nursery rhymes featured on Baby Jamz Volume 1. Knowles finished work on her second studio album in 2008, and titled the project "SoL-AngeL and The Hadley St. Dreams". It includes production by Cee-Lo Green, Soulshock & Karlin and Mark Ronson as well as appearances by Lil' Wayne, and Bilal. Classically trained in ballet, jazz, tap and modern dance, Solange performed as a back up dancer for Destiny's Child.
ABOUT THE HOST
Al Roker has been the weather and feature reporter on NBC News' Today since January 1996. Until January of 2000, Roker also served as the weekday weather forecaster for News Channel 4's early evening newscast Live at 5 on WNBC-TV, NBC's flagship owned and operated station in New York City. New York magazine has twice named Roker Best Weatherman. He came to WNBC-TV as a weekend weathercaster in December 1983 from WKYC-TV, the NBC Television Station in Cleveland. Roker began his broadcasting career while still in college by landing a job as a weekend weatherman WTVH-TV in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1974. After graduation he moved on to weathercasting jobs in Washington, D.C. (1976-1978) and Cleveland, Ohio (1978-1983). He is a recipient of the American Meteorological Society's prestigious Seal of Approval and has been a pioneer in the use of computer graphics for weathercasting. Roker has reported live for "Today" throughout the years from some of history's worst storms including most recently when Hurricane Wilma threatened the Florida coast during one of the worst hurricane seasons on record. Among his interview highlights, Roker conducted an exclusive interview with Peanuts creator Charles Shultz shortly before his death from colon cancer. Roker's annual "Lend a Hand Today" trip takes him across the nation as he visits a different not-for-profit organization daily to deliver donations each charity needs to do its good work.