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[11/29/04 - 12:00 AM]
U.S. Olympians to Light the World's Most Famous Tree on NBC's 7th Annual 'Christmas in Rockefeller Center' (November 30, 8-9pm Et)

[via press release from NBC]

U.S. OLYMPIANS TO LIGHT THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS TREE ON NBC'S 7TH ANNUAL 'CHRISTMAS IN ROCKEFELLER CENTER' (NOVEMBER 30, 8-9PM ET)

AL ROKER AND NANCY O'DELL CO-HOST STAR-STUDDED SHOW FEATURING JESSICA SIMPSON, NICK LACHEY, HILARY DUFF, KENNY CHESNEY, CLAY AIKEN, CHRIS ISAAK, MICHAEL BUBLE, TONY BENNETT, VANESSA WILLIAMS, AND THE ROCK BAND CHICAGO

NEW YORK -- November 29, 2004 -- U.S. Olympians, past and present, will gather tomorrow night to light the world's most famous tree on NBC's 7th annual "Christmas in Rockefeller Center," (November 30, 8-9pm ET). The star-studded hour-long special will culminate with a surprise appearance by these Olympians as they prepare to flick the switch along with co-hosts Al Roker ("Today") and Nancy O'Dell ("Access Hollywood"). Olympic Gold Medalist Sarah Hughes will also skate to Vanessa William's stirring rendition of "Silver and Gold."

"As a native New Yorker and someone who came as a child to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree every season, I'm excited to be co-hosting the seventh annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree," says Al Roker. "Getting to do it with my Rose Parade partner, Nancy O'Dell, is like an early Christmas present."

"There is nothing that symbolizes the commencement of the holiday season more than the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree," says Nancy O'Dell. "I am honored to join my friend, Al, in celebrating what is sure to be an evening filled with tradition, spectacular performances and fun!"

The star-studded musical lineup for the special will include a mix of current hits and favorite holiday music with performances by Hilary Duff, Kenny Chesney, Clay Aiken, Tony Bennett, Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, Chris Isaak, Michael Buble, Vanessa Williams, and The Radio City Rockettes. Legendary rock 'n roll band Chicago will be the special house band for both the local and national telecasts. Selection of songs and additional talent will be announced in the coming days.

Prior to the airing of the network special, WNBC, NBC's New York flagship station, will broadcast an additional live hour of the special (7-8 p.m. ET). WNBC has been the home to the Rockefeller Center tree lighting, working with co-owner of Rockefeller Center, Tishman Speyer Properties.

This year's tree, a Norwegian Spruce from Suffern, NY, is estimated to be 50-years old, weigh 9 tons, stand 71-feet high and 40-feet wide. For the first time in its 72-year history, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will be adorned with a crystal star. The star, designed by Swarovski, is adorned with 25,000 crystals and one million facets that will radiate over midtown Manhattan from its perch atop the 71-foot tree. The star measures 9 ?-feet in diameter and 1-1/2 feet deep, making it the largest star to grace the tree. The Swarovski star will be unveiled on Tuesday, November 16th, at the official star raising ceremony.

The tradition of the tree itself began in the Great Depression during the construction of the Rockefeller Center complex in 1931. The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began formally in 1933 when a tree was decked with 700 lights and placed in front of the then eight-month old RCA Building, which is now the GE Building. The Christmas tradition 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.

Christmas trees in Rockefeller Center have ranged from 50-foot Pines to 100-foot Norway Spruces and have been viewed by approximately 2,500,000 spectators annually. The decorations and lighting effects have covered a variety of colors and schemes, including one year when the tree was painted silver.

"Christmas in Rockefeller Center" is produced for a national audience by WNBC and TWI, the television division of IMG (International Management Group). Steve Mayer and Adele Rifkin are executive producers, Bob Holmes is co-executive producer, Mike Mathis is event producer and Steve Grymes is Director.





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