CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) - NBC will break the seal on a fresh marquee lineup of longform events in 2003-04 that includes new movies such as the daring rescue of U.S. Army corporal Jessica Lynch, a new Holiday movie �Secret Santa� starring Jennie Garth and �The Legend of Butch & Sundance,� as well as showcase specials starring Elton John and Harry Connick Jr. (both in holiday music specials). In addition, NBC will premiere the miniseries �10.5,� concerning a devastating earthquake in a major metropolis.
The announcement was made today by Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Entertainment, and Jeff Gaspin, Executive Vice President, Alternative Series, Longform and Program Strategy, NBC Entertainment.
�Once again, NBC will be the place to be for the appointment events,� said Zucker. �We have a good mix of contemporary and popular historical subjects for our original movies while the stars of our music specials will satisfy a broad base of fans that define �appointment television�.�
NBC will offer such specials as �The 61st Annual Golden Globes Awards� as well as the �31st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards.� In addition, there will be traditional and festive holiday specials such as �Christmas in Rockefeller Center,� �Macy�s Thanksgiving Day Parade�,� �The National Dog Show,� �Macy�s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular� and �The 115th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade� on January 1, 2004.
Following are program descriptions for these and other events for 2003-04:
SAVING JESSICA LYNCH (working title) � With the help and official story rights of Iraqi lawyer Mohammed Al-Rahaief, this original movie tells the incredible true story of the heroic rescue of P.f.c. Jessica Lynch during Operation Iraqi Freedom on April 1, 2003. Her inspiring story of heroism provided hope to the nation and the world and proved an example of triumph despite great odds and affliction. This is a story of incredible courage � the courage of a 19-year-old enduring a hellish ordeal and the American Special Operations team who defied the odds to bring her home. Executive producers are Dan Paulson (�Passenger 57,� �A Cooler Climate�) and Bob Chmiel (Emmy Award winning �A Gift of Love�) and the writer is John Fasano (�Profiler�).
SECRET SANTA - Jennie Garth (�What I Like About You,� �Beverly Hills, 90210�) stars in this new movie that is destined to become a holiday classic on NBC. Garth portrays a young journalist whose cynical take on Christmas lands her in a small town on assignment to uncover the identity of a mysterious philanthropist, "Secret Santa." In the process, she learns the true meaning of Christmas. Garth can currently be seen on WB�s popular series "What I Like About You." "Secret Santa" is from The Polson Company, with Beth Polson as executive producer.
THE LEGEND OF BUTCH & SUNDANCE � The story of two of America�s most legendary outlaws � Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid � is told from a new perspective in this two-hour movie that will uncover the early years of the gentleman bandits. New talents David Rogers as Butch Cassidy and Ryan Browning (�Stealing Sinatra�) as the Sundance Kid, star with Rachelle Lefrevre (�Confessions of a Dangerous Mind�) as the charming Etta Place. The rollicking, action-packed story tells how two young cowboys and their Hole-in-the-Wall Gang became folk heroes by robbing greedy land barons who sought to control the West. Blake Gibbons (�General Hospital�), Mark Consuelos (�All My Children�), Susan Ruttan (�L.A. Law�) and Michael Biehn (�The Rock�) also star. The executive producers are Stanley M. Brooks and Greg Gugliotta. The movie, a production of Once Upon a Time Films and Viacom Productions, also could be the impetus for a new television series.
NATIONAL LAMPOON'S COUSIN EDDIE'S CHRISTMAS VACATION � Oscar and Emmy nominee Randy Quaid (�The Last Detail,� �A Streetcar Named Desire,� �Independence Day�) reprises his unforgettable role as Cousin Eddie from the popular "National Lampoon Vacation" feature-film franchise in this fun-filled holiday adventure. The affable Eddie and his family are given an all-expense paid trip to the South Pacific for Christmas vacation, but Eddie can't seem to go anywhere without causing chaos - even in the tropical South Seas. When they get shipwrecked on an island, hilarity ensues as Eddie and his family try to survive the elements � and each other � in a Christmas vacation they�ll never forget. Matty Simmons, who produced �National Lampoon�s Animal House� and the �National Lampoon Vacation� films, is the writer and executive producer of the Warner Bros. Television production.
10.5 � From director John Lafia (�The Dead Zone�), NBC presents the ground-shattering movie event, �10.5.� Disaster hits the United States when a giant earthquake shakes-up the West Coast, separating the entire region from the main land, and sending it into the ocean. Michael Jaffe (�Martha, Inc.: The Martha Stewart Story�), Howard Braunstein (�South Pacific�), and Gary Pearl (�Liberty Stands Still�) serve as executive producers for the teleplay written by Lafia, Chris Canaan (�The House on Turk Street�), and Ronnie Christensen (�Dark Angel�). The movie is distributed by Hallmark Entertainment.
ELTON IN NASHVILLE (working title) � Elton John brings his overflowing songbook of his favorite hits to the country music capital of Nashville. An all-star lineup of musical talents will pay tribute to John�s living legend by performing their own versions of his all-time hits. Now into his fourth decade as a singer-composer-musician � and showman -- John will further embellish his legacy with this memorable, one-hour special that seems likely to merit �Must See� status as a musical event.
HARRY CONNICK JR. HOLIDAY SPECIAL (working title) � Multi-platinum-selling and Grammy-winning music star Harry Connick Jr. (who also recurs as Leo on NBC�s comedy �Will & Grace�) toasts the holidays with guest stars in a new Christmas-themed special down in his native New Orleans. An artist of many talents � singer, musician, composer and actor � Connick brings them all in focus in a spirited, one-hour special that showcases his spectrum of musical styles. The Creole-flavored holiday celebration boasts traditional and untraditional performances that reflect Connick�s roots. In addition, the special will coincide with the release of his new CD in time for the festive season.
SHANIA TWAIN (working title) � Winner of five Grammys (and six-time American Music Awards), Shania Twain brings a multitude of crossover pop and country fans who have helped her attain unprecedented career heights. Her new, two-hour special follows Twain�s record-setting album �Come On Over� � the most successful female solo artist album of all time with worldwide sales of 34 million. Twain�s latest album, �Up!� has put her atop the charts again with an artful mix of dance tracks and moody ballads. The special will be videotaped in Chicago this summer.
THE 61st ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS � For the ninth consecutive year, NBC will showcase the glittering awards ceremony that has become known as Hollywood's hottest ticket event for its intimate setting and relaxed, festive atmosphere. At 61, the Golden Globes have blossomed into not only a solid indicator of TV�s Emmy and feature film's Oscar prospects, but also as an internationally recognized honor in its own right for both the film and television industries. On no other night can Hollywood's A-list of film and television stars be found celebrating together in one location. Originating "live" from the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, the special will be produced by dick clark productions in association with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Dagmar Dunlevy is President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Dick Clark (NBC's "American Dreams") and Barry Adelman are the executive producers.
CHRISTMAS IN ROCKEFELLER CENTER � NBC continues a holiday tradition with its live, sixth-annual national telecast of the 71st celebration of the world's most famous Christmas tree in "Christmas in Rockefeller Center," a star-studded one-hour special from Rockefeller Center in New York City hosted by NBC's "Today" hosts Al Roker and Ann Curry. The popular musical lineup will include a mix of current hits along with holiday music. "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" is produced for a national audience by TWI, the television division of IMG (International Management Group), and WNBC. Steve Mayer and Adele Rifkin are executive producers, Mike Mathis is event producer and Steve Grymes is producer/director.
MACY�S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE � The 77th anniversary of America�s favorite Thanksgiving Day parade features all the spectacular pageantry, fun and surprises that have made this annual New York City extravaganza a perennial favorite. Heralding the start of the Christmas season, this beloved holiday parade features colorful grand floats, lively marching bands, amazing character balloons and special performances by some of today�s hottest stars and Broadway performers -- plus an appearance by Santa Claus. Brad Lachman is the executive producer of this live (in some time zones), three-hour special from NBC Entertainment.
THE NATIONAL DOG SHOW � NBC unleashes its second annual Thanksgiving holiday special "The National Dog Show Presented by Purina," a two-hour, canine-friendly event hosted by John O�Hurley (�Seinfeld�) for broadcast immediately following the "Macy�s Thanksgiving Day Parade." The annual dog show, hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, is one of the oldest and most prestigious sporting events in North America, and is one of only six remaining "benched" dog shows where the public can interact with the show dogs. "The National Dog Show" takes place at the Kennel Club of Philadelphia�s annual show that is expected to feature over 3,000 of the nation�s leading canine from various breeds, all vying for �Best in Show� honors. �The National Dog Show� television special will be presented by Purina� brand pet foods (also a sponsor of the Philadelphia event) and will be produced by NBC.
THE 115th ANNUAL TOURNAMENT OF ROSES PARADE � Live from Pasadena, California, NBC presents �The 115th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade.� For 77 years, NBC has been broadcasting the annual New Year�s Day event, beginning on radio in 1927 and then televising the popular event beginning in 1954. The event will feature lavish floral floats, high-stepping equestrian units and lively marching bands from all over the country, as well as this year�s Rose Queen and her court. Arthur Forrest is the executive producer/director, Carol Kahl is the supervising producer and Stephanie Prescott is the coordinating producer for NBC Entertainment.
31ST ANNUAL DAYTIME EMMY AWARDS -- The stars of daytime television shine brightest at night when NBC presents �The 31st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards� in May 2004. The awards will recognize outstanding achievement by individuals and programs broadcast during the prior calendar year. Next year�s awards will feature appearances by some of television�s most recognizable faces as well as the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Previous celebrity presenters and attendees include Oprah Winfrey, Regis Philbin, Rosie O�Donnell, Barbara Walters, Merv Griffin, and Deidre Hall (NBC�s �Days of Our Lives�).
MACY�S FOURTH OF JULY FIREWORKS SPECTACULAR � Once again, NBC and Macy's join to celebrate the country's birthday with the "Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular," an hour-long patriotic special featuring colorful pyrotechnical displays live from various locations around New York City. The event includes additional celebrity guests, Broadway musical performances and more than 20 minutes of awe-inspiring fireworks over the skies of New York. The special is produced by NBC Entertainment in association with Broadway Video; John Irwin is the executive producer.
The above is taken from NBC's press release concerning its upfront presentation. You can read the original release by clicking here.