Photo: Courtesy of Tishman Speyer-Photographer Bart Barlow
It’s that time of year! The lighting of the world famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree!
NBC will celebrate the lighting of the world’s most famous Christmas tree with a live broadcast from Rockefeller Center in New York City on Wednesday, Dec. 4 (8-9 p.m. ET). The star-studded holiday special is hosted by “Today” anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales, and will feature performances from Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Goo Goo Dolls, Ariana Grande and Jewel.
The 81st annual holiday extravaganza will feature a 76-foot Norway Spruce that is 47 feet in diameter and weighs approximately 12 tons. The tree is estimated to be about 75 years old. More than 45,000 energy-efficient multi-colored LED lights will be strung to decorate the tree, topped with a 9 ½ foot wide LED-lit Swarovski crystal star.
The tradition of the Rockefeller Christmas tree dates back to the Great Depression. First erected in 1933, the inaugural tree was decked with 700 lights and placed in front of the then eight-month-old RCA Building (the current 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 tree lighting for the first time in 1951 on “The Kate Smith Show” and as part of the nationwide “Howdy Doody” television show from 1953-55.
Prior to this year’s primetime telecast, an additional live hour of the special (7-8 p.m. ET) will be broadcast by the following NBC stations: WNBC/New York; WCAU/Philadelphia; KSNV/Las Vegas; WBBH/Fort Myers, Fla.; KHNL/Honolulu, Hawaii; WNWO/Toledo, Ohio; WTWC/Tallahassee, Fla.; WVIR/Charlottesville, Va., WETM/Elmira, N.Y.; WGBC/Meridian, Miss.; KHBC/Hilo, Hawaii; and KOGG/Wailuku, Hawaii.
“Christmas in Rockefeller Center” is produced by Brad Lachman Productions with Lachman serving as executive producer. Bill Bracken will produce.
ABOUT THE HOSTS:
Matt Lauer — Matt Lauer has been co-anchor of NBC News’ “Today” since January 6, 1997. He joined “Today” in January 1994 as the show’s news anchor. From September 1992 to September 1996, Lauer was at WNBC in New York City where he served as a co-anchor of the early morning newscast “Today in New York” and as a co-anchor of the early evening newscast “News Channel 4/Live at Five.” He began substituting on “Today” as a news anchor in early 1993 before becoming the permanent news anchor in 1994. Prior to joining WNBC, Lauer hosted a daily, live, three-hour interview program, “9 Broadcast Plaza,” in New York from 1989 to 1991. Before that, his experience included hosting a number of weekly information and talk programs in Boston, Philadelphia, Providence and Richmond. Lauer began his career in 1979 as a producer of the noon news on WOWK in Huntington, West Virginia. In 1980, he was a reporter on the station’s 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts. Lauer is a graduate of Ohio University. He lives in New York with his wife, Annette Roque Lauer, their sons, Jack and Thijs, and daughter, Romy. Follow Lauer on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mlauer
Savannah Guthrie — Savannah Guthrie is the co-anchor of NBC News’ “Today” and also serves as NBC News Chief Legal Correspondent. Prior to joining “Today,” Guthrie served as NBC News White House Correspondent from December 2008 to June 2011 where she contributed to all NBC News properties, including “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” “Today” and MSNBC. Guthrie also served as co-host of MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” from January 2010 to June 2011. In 2002, Guthrie received her Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center, where she graduated magna cum laude. She was a member of Order of the Coif and received the International Academy of Trial Lawyers’ Student Advocacy Award for her work with victims of domestic violence. She graduated cum laude from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 1993. She received the top score on the Arizona Bar Exam in 2002. Follow Guthrie on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SavannahGuthrie
Al Roker — Al Roker has been the weather and feature anchor on NBC News’ “Today” since January 1996. He’s also co-host of “Wake Up with Al” on the Weather Channel. 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 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. In 1994, Roker founded Al Roker Entertainment, Inc. (ARE), a thriving multimedia company involved in the development and production of network, cable, home video, and public television projects. Roker is a bestselling author, with his most recent book, “Never Goin’ Back: Winning the Weight-Loss Battle For Good,” available now. Raised in Queens, N.Y., Roker received his B.A. in communications from the State University at Oswego in 1976, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the school in 1998. He resides in Manhattan with his wife, ABC News 20/20 Correspondent Deborah Roberts, and has two daughters and one son. Follow Roker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/alroker
Natalie Morales — Natalie Morales is the news anchor of NBC News’ “Today” and the co-host of the third hour. Prior to her role as news anchor, Morales served as “Today” national correspondent from February 2006 to June 2011. Morales also served as a national correspondent for all NBC News platforms including “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” Dateline NBC,” and MSNBC, and still continues to report across the NBC News Group. Morales, who speaks Spanish and Portuguese, was born in Taiwan and spent much of the first 18 years of her life living overseas in Panama, Brazil and Spain as an Air Force “brat.” She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University, New Jersey, with dual majors in journalism and Latin American studies. Morales was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Suma Cum Laude. She currently resides in New Jersey with her husband and two sons. Follow Morales on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nmoralesNBC
ABOUT THE PERFORMERS:
Mary J. Blige – Iconic Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, actress and philanthropist, Mary J. Blige is a figure of inspiration, transformation and empowerment making Blige one of the defining voices of the contemporary music era. With a track record of eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 29 nominations), a 2012 Golden Globe nomination, and four American Music Awards, Blige is a global superstar. And in the ensuing years, the singer/songwriter has attracted an intensely loyal fan base—responsible for propelling worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums. In October 2013, Blige for Matriarch Records/Verve Records/Interscope Records released her 11th studio album titled “A Mary Christmas,” making it her first-ever holiday album and collaboration with legendary producer and Chairman of The Verve Music Group, David Foster. Blige’s holiday album features her soulful interpretation of classic holiday tunes including “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “The Christmas Song.” Blige is joined by a number of A-list guests, starting with Barbra Streisand, who duets with Blige on “When You Wish Upon A Star,” along with Jessie J on “Do You Hear What I Hear.” The Clark Sisters join Blige on “The First Noel,” and “Noche de Paz” is a Spanish collaboration with Mark Anthony. Next, Blige will star as Platinum Fro, a mysterious guardian angel in the Kasi Lemmon-directed “Black Nativity,” a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes’ 1961 play. The holiday musical film drama will hit theatres in November 27, 2013 with an all-star cast including Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, and Tyrese Gibson.
Toni Braxton – The distinctive, sultry vocals of six-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist Toni Braxton – singer, songwriter, record producer, and philanthropist – have been celebrated internationally ever since she was first introduced to the world by Babyface and L.A. Reid in 1992. Her self-titled debut album released the next year was a 10 million-selling phenomenon that generated Braxton’s first Grammys in 1994, for Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal (“Another Sad Love Song”). The album’s longevity led Braxton to win her second Best Female R&B Vocal Grammy the following year (for “Breathe Again”). Her second album, “Secrets,” arrived in 1996, and history repeated itself with 15 million worldwide sales. At the Grammy Awards in 1997, Braxton became only the second woman in history (beside Dionne Warwick) to win Best Female Pop Vocal (“Un-break My Heart”) and Best Female R&B Vocal (“You’re Makin’ Me High”) in the same year. She returned to the Grammy podium in 2001 to claim another Best Female R&B Vocal award (“He Wasn’t Man Enough,” from the double-platinum album “The Heat”). Into the millennium, Braxton blossomed into an acting career with Broadway musical roles in “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aida,” and a dramatic turn in the Lifetime movie “Twist of Faith.” She and her sisters currently enjoy huge success in “Braxton Family Values,” one of WE tv’s flagship reality series, which returns for a fourth season in November 2013. Raising her two sons Denim and Diezel, Braxton balances her career demands with the high priorities of family, heath, public service, and charity work, particularly on behalf of the two diseases that have impacted her family directly – she is living with Lupus and her youngest child is living with Autism. Early detection and intervention has helped both Braxtons to be role models on how to live normal lives with these conditions. Braxton is also a proud spokesperson for Autism Speaks. She and Babyface will release “Love, Marriage & Divorce,” their first album of duets together, in February 2014.
Mariah Carey – Mariah Carey is the best-selling female artist of all time with more than 200 million albums sold and a ground-breaking career total of 224 #1 Billboard hits, including an unprecedented 18 #1 Hot 100 singles – the most of any solo artist in history. Her brand new single, “#Beautiful,” a collaboration with Miguel, has won critical raves and is already #1 in over 30 countries and a certified radio smash. “#Beautiful” is the lead single from Carey’s new album for Island Def Jam Music Group. With her world renowned voice and her award-winning songwriting and producing, she has clearly earned her place at the top of music’s pantheon. As a singer/songwriter/producer, she has been recognized with five Grammy Awards, nine American Music Awards, Billboard’s “Artist of the Decade” Award, the World Music Award for “World’s Best Selling Female Artist of the Millennium,” and BMI’s “Icon Award” for her outstanding achievements in songwriting, to name a few. Carey’s ongoing impact transcends the music industry to leave an indelible imprint upon the world at large. A Congressional Award recipient, Carey has generously donated her time and energy to a range of philanthropic causes near to her heart including Save the Music, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, World Hunger Relief, and the Elton John Aids Foundation, among many others. A tremendous supporter of children’s charities, both domestic and international, Carey, in partnership with the Fresh Air Fund founded Camp Mariah, a retreat for inner city children to explore career development.
Kelly Clarkson — Grammy Award winner Kelly Clarkson has released five studio albums (“Thankful,” “Breakaway,” “My December,” “All I Ever Wanted,” “Stronger”), one Greatest Hits album, sold over 20 million albums worldwide, 10 million albums in the U.S. and has had 10 singles in the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. She is the recipient of three Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, two Academy of Country Music Awards, one Country Music Association Award and 12 Billboard Music Awards. Clarkson’s last studio effort “Stronger” debuted at #2 on both the Billboard Top 200 and Digital Albums Chart. The album produced the smash singles, “Mr. Know It All” and “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” which marks Clarkson’s 9th and 10th Top 10 hit. “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” was #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart for two consecutive weeks (three weeks total) marking her third #1 on the Hot 100 chart. Clarkson’s “Stronger” was certified Platinum by the R.I.A.A. and won the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album. She spent the summer touring with Maroon 5 and recording her very first Christmas album, “Wrapped In Red,” which was released in October and features five original tracks as well as some Christmas favorites. Clarkson was recently nominated for two CMA Awards as well as two ACA Awards.
Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds — Ten time Grammy Award-winning recording artist Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds has been revolutionizing the contemporary pop/Urban music landscape ever since scoring consecutive multi-platinum landmark albums with “Tender Lover” (1989), “For the Cool in You” (1993) and “The Day” (1996). Edmonds is the recipient of numerous awards, including Soul Train Music Awards, BMI Awards, NAACP Image Awards, and American Music Awards. He received the third BET Walk of Fame Award (following previous honorees Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston), BET’s Entertainer of the Year at the First Annual BET Awards, and most recently was honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Edmonds’ caring and generosity has earned him several accolades, including the Essence Award for Excellence, The City of Hope Award and Variety Magazine’s “Top of the Town” Award. As co-founder with L.A. Reid of Atlanta’s LaFace Records in 1989, Edmonds nurtured the careers of megastars TLC, OutKast, Goodie Mob, Usher, and Toni Braxton. Into the ’90s and ’00s, Edmonds lent his talents to an abundance of hits with other artists, resulting in more than 125 Top 10 R&B and pop hits, 42 R&B #1 hits, and 51 Top 10 Pop hits (including 16 #1’s) under his belt, which have generated cumulative single and album sales of more than 500 million units worldwide. Most recent production work with other artists includes Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Keri Hilson, Ledisi, Ariana Grande and Aretha Franklin. Babyface is also an active touring artist, performing concerts across the U.S. and around the world on a regular basis. He and Toni Braxton will release “Love, Marriage & Divorce,” their first album of duets together, in February 2014.
Goo Goo Dolls – Multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated Goo Goo Dolls recently released their 10th studio album, “Magnetic.” The album debuted at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, and their new single, “Come To Me,” is Top 20 and on the air in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Washington DC, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle and many more. The Buffalo trio celebrated the album’s release with a performance on “Good Morning America,” and they have recently appeared on “The Tonight Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Live with Kelly & Michael,” “CBS Saturday Morning,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and “Rachael Ray.” Goo Goo Dolls have sold over 10 million albums worldwide, with 14 Top 10 Radio hits, more than any other artist in the history of the Hot AC format. They are the only artist to have three songs on Billboard’s “Top 100 Songs from 1992-2012″ including the Number One slot, for “Iris.” John Rzeznik has been honored with the Songwriters Hall of Fame Hal David Starlight Award and they have been inducted into Guitar Center’s Historic Hollywood Rock Walk.
Ariana Grande – Ariana Grande has become a bona fide pop phenomenon. 2x-platinum single “The Way” initially debuted Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and seized the #1 spot on iTunes Overall Songs Chart as soon as it was released. Meanwhile, the track also resonated immensely with the Latin audience. The single’s Spanish version climbed to #5 at Latin Radio, showing that she could not only bridge the generational gap but cultural barriers as well. Everything laid the groundwork for YOURS TRULY to actually reach #1 on the iTunes Pop Albums Chart and on the Overall Albums Chart based on pre-orders alone. Yours Truly arrived at #1 on the Billboard Top 200. It was the first time since January 2010 that a debut record from a female artist topped the chart. Not only did it bow at #1 on the Top 200, in addition, it was the #1 album on iTunes Overall Albums Chart and #1 on the Digital Albums Chart.
Jewel – From the remote ranch of her Alaskan youth to the triumph of international stardom, four-time Grammy nominee Jewel, hailed by the New York Times as a “songwriter bursting with talents,” has enjoyed career longevity rare among her generation of artists. Whether alone with her guitar or fronting a band of ace musicians, Jewel has always been a charismatic live performer, earning the respect of other singer-songwriters such as Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, who, not only invited her to open their shows, but mentored her in the early phases of her career. After a tremendous amount of success as a singer-songwriter and over 27 million albums sold, Jewel released a Greatest Hits album in 2013. The album features a collection of her most known songs as well as two new duets with Kelly Clarkson and The Pistol Annies, in addition to a new track called “Two Hearts Breaking.” She also starred as June Carter Cash in the Lifetime biopic “Ring of Fire,” which earned four Emmy nominations. In December of this year Jewel will join NBC’s “The Sing Off” as a new judge as well as release her much anticipated follow-up holiday album, “Let It Snow.” The acclaimed American singer-songwriter-poet will not only debut 10 holiday favorites but will also feature two new original songs, “Blue Crystal Glow” and “It’s Christmastime.” Produced alongside some of the music industry’s greatest composers, Steve Skinner, Robbie Kondor and Joe Mardin, the album features country, indie-pop roots with a classical twist. Vince Gill, Country Music Hall of Famer and 20-time Grammy® Award winner, also joins Jewel on the guitar for an extraordinary rendition of “White Christmas.” Jewel currently lives on a working ranch in Stephenville, Texas with her husband, World Champion bull-riding superstar, Ty Murray and their baby Kase Townes Murray.
For more information on the “Christmas in Rockefeller Center,” visit www.nbc.com/specials and the NBC Universal Media Village website at www.nbcumv.com
Anyone can enjoy a live view of the most famous Christmas tree in the world online at nbcnewyork.com!
Follow @rockcenternyc for all the latest updates and join the conversation on twitter with hash-tag #RockCenterXmas.
Interested in what a famous New York Christmas tree has to say? For fun, mixed in with a bit of snark, follow @30rockTree.
Photo: Courtesy of Tishman Speyer-Photographer Bart Barlow
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