Performances Include Songs from Diana Ross, Tony Bennett & Diana Krall, Brett Eldredge, Darci Lynne Farmer, John Legend, Martina McBride, Pentatonix and Kellie Pickler; Special Appearance by Howie Mandel
NEW YORK — Nov. 15, 2018 — The most wonderful time of the year kicks off with the annual lighting of New York City’s famous tree on NBC’s “Christmas in Rockefeller Center®” on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 8-10 p.m. ET/PT. The evening will include festive performances by Diana Ross, Tony Bennett & Diana Krall, Brett Eldredge, Darci Lynne Farmer, Diana Krall, John Legend, Martina McBride, Pentatonix and Kellie Pickler, with a special appearance by Howie Mandel. Additional acts to be announced. NBC’s “Today” anchors Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Craig Melvin will co-host the highly anticipated holiday special.
Prior to the primetime telecast, an additional live hour of the special will be broadcast on select NBC stations (7-8 p.m. ET) and be co-hosted by “Extra’s” Mario Lopez and WNBC’s Stefan Holt and Natalie Pasquarella. Check local listings.
The tradition of the Rockefeller Christmas tree dates back to the Great Depression. First erected in 1931, the inaugural tree was decked with 700 lights and placed in front of the then eight-month-old RCA Building (the current Comcast 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
The 86th annual holiday special will celebrate the lighting of a 72-foot tall, 45-foot wide Norway Spruce from Wallkill, N.Y. The tree weighs approximately 12 tons and is approximately 75 years old.
It will be adorned with more than 50,000 multi-colored LEDs on approximately five miles of wire and topped with a new Swarovski star designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. The new three-dimensional star is 9 feet 4 inches in diameter, weighs approximately 900 pounds and features 70 spikes covered in 3 million Swarovski crystals.
NBCUniversal is celebrating the 10th anniversary of our partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, kicking off with “Christmas in Rockefeller Center®.” As part of the company’s Green is Universal initiative, the campaign will support tree-planting efforts to promote recovery in disaster-stricken areas. NBCUniversal’s $50,000 donation will restore tree canopies across the United States that have been destroyed by recent wildfires and hurricanes. The more than 100,000 trees planted since the partnership’s inception have helped to rebuild forests and communities, as well as provide beautification, cleaner air and water, and restoration of natural habitat.
ABOUT THE HOSTS:
Savannah Guthrie is the co-anchor of NBC News’ TODAY and she also serves as NBC News’ chief legal correspondent. Since joining TODAY, she has conducted a wide range of exclusive interviews with newsmakers, including President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power and former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords. Guthrie was a primary anchor for both the network’s primetime 2018 midterm election coverage and the 2016 presidential election coverage. Guthrie has anchored major breaking news events, including the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, Las Vegas mass shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris and the 2013 Moore, Okla., tornado. As part of her work on TODAY, she received a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Morning Show in 2012. Guthrie is also a New York Times bestselling author for her books “Princesses Wear Pants” and the sequel “Princesses Save the World.”
Hoda Kotb is the co-anchor of NBC News’ TODAY as well as the co-host of TODAY with Kathie Lee and Hoda. Kotb has also been a “Dateline” correspondent since 1998 and covered a variety of domestic and international stories, as well as human-interest pieces and features across all NBC News platforms. Kotb has received numerous awards, including the 2008 Gracie Award for Individual Achievement, the 2008 Alfred I. duPont –Columbia University Award, a Peabody in 2006 and as part of her work on TODAY, a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Morning Show in 2012. She is a New York Times bestselling author for her books "Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer and Kathie Lee,” "Ten Years Later: Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives” and “I’ve Loved You Since Forever.”
With a career spanning 35 years, 13-time Emmy-award winner Al Roker is the weather, feature and co-anchor on NBC’s TODAY. Throughout the years, Roker has reported live for TODAY from some of history’s worst storms and natural disasters including Haiti in 2010 and from the Lower Ninth Ward and the French Quarter in New Orleans for a special edition on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. 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 and as part of his work on TODAY, he received a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Morning Show in 2010. Since 1985, he has served each holiday season as co-host for the annual Christmas at Rockefeller Center and also co-hosts The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Rose Bowl Parade. As CEO of Al Roker Entertainment, he produces programming for traditional TV networks as well as OTT and digital platforms. Roker is also bestselling author with 11 acclaimed books to his credit.
Craig Melvin is a news anchor on NBC News’ TODAY and an anchor on MSNBC. His breaking news coverage and reporting appears across all NBC News and MSNBC platforms. Melvin has covered a wide-range of news events, including several Republican and Democratic National Conventions. He has also covered tragic mass shootings across the country for the network, including Dallas and Orlando in 2016; Charleston, South Carolina in 2015; the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. in 2013; and Sandy Hook in 2012. In addition, Melvin reported extensively on police involved shootings and subsequent protests in Baltimore, Maryland in 2015 and Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. Melvin also contributed to NBC Sports coverage of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil.
ABOUT THE PERFORMERS:
Diana Ross is an American singer, actress and record producer. Born and raised in Detroit, Mich., Ross rose to fame as the lead singer of the vocal group the Supremes, which became Motown's most successful act in the 1960s and one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time. Following her departure from the Supremes in 1970, Ross released her debut solo album, which contained the Top 20 Pop hit "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and the No. 1 Pop hit "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." She later released the album “Touch Me in the Morning” in 1973; its title track reached No. 1, as her second solo No. 1 hit. That same year, her album “Lady Sings the Blues,” which was the original soundtrack of her film based on the life of jazz singer Billie Holiday, went to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, selling more than 300,000 copies within its first 8 days of release. By 1976, the “Mahogany” soundtrack included her third No. 1 hit, "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)." Her 1976 album included her fourth No. 1 hit, "Love Hangover". In 1979, Ross released the album “The Boss.” Her 1980 semi-eponymous album “Diana” reached No. 2 on the US Billboard albums chart and spawned the No. 1 hit "Upside Down," and the Top 5 international hit "I'm Coming Out." Ross' final single with Motown Records during her initial run with the company achieved her sixth and final US No. 1 Pop hit, the duet "Endless Love.” She is the recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. Ross has also ventured into acting, with a Golden Globe Award and Academy Award-nominated performance for her performance in the film “Lady Sings the Blues.” She also starred in two other feature films, “Mahogany” and “The Wiz,” later acting in the television films “Out of Darkness,” for which she also was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, and “Double Platinum.” Ross was named the "Female Entertainer of the Century" by Billboard magazine. In 1993, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Ross the most successful female music artist in history. She will be performing songs off her new holiday collection, “Wonderful Christmas Time.”
No one in popular American music has recorded for so long and at such a high level of excellence than Tony Bennett. In the last 10 years alone he has sold 10 million records. The essence of his longevity and high artistic achievement was imbued in him in his loving childhood home in the Astoria section of Queens where he was born on Aug. 3, 1926. As a teenager Bennett sang while waiting on tables and then enlisted in the Army during World War II and while in Europe he performed with military bands. Bennett’s big break came in 1949 when comedian Bob Hope noticed him working with Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village in New York City. Bennett is one of a handful of artists to have new albums charting in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and now in the first two decades of the 21st century. He has introduced a multitude of songs into the Great American Songbook that have since become standards for popular music. With millions of records sold worldwide and platinum and gold albums to his credit, Bennett has received 19 Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Bennett is also an Emmy Award winner, a Kennedy Center honoree NEA Jazz Master and the first interpretive singer to receive the Gershwin Prize from the Library of Congress. An accomplished painter, three of his works are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute and he has authored six books.
Diana Krall is the only jazz singer to have nine albums debut at the top of the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. To date, her albums have garnered five Grammy Awards, 10 Juno Awards and have also earned nine gold, three platinum and seven multi-platinum albums. Krall's unique artistry transcends any single musical style and has made her one of the most recognizable artists of our time. Born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, which is outside of Vancouver, Krall grew up in the western part of Canada and began studying the piano when she was 4 years old. Krall was still a teenager when she was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. In 1994, she signed with GRP Records and recorded “Only Trust Your Heart,” which marked the beginning of her association with Tommy LiPuma, a collaboration that would continue until LiPuma’s untimely passing in 2017. Krall’s success continued with her subsequent releases “All for You” and “Love Scenes,” but her watershed moment came in 1999 with the release of “When I Look in Your Eyes,” her first release for the historic Verve record label. The recording spent an unprecedented 52 weeks in the #1 position on Billboard's Jazz chart, won two Grammy Awards and went platinum in the U.S. and Canada. Krall's next album, “The Look of Love,” continued her international success and became a top 10 seller on Billboard’s Top 200 Album charts. Since then she has released a string of recordings that have created an impressive body of work, including recordings featured in several film soundtracks. Krall has expanded upon her role as a performer to include songwriting, producing and arranging and has brought her talents to collaborate with many other artists, including Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett. She tours extensively around the globe to sold out audiences, appearing at premiere jazz festivals and concert halls throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Platinum-selling singer/songwriter Brett Eldredge has established himself as one of country music’s smoothest-singing vocal powerhouses, biggest radio heavy hitters and most entertaining, arena-packing showmen. He recently released his latest single, “Love Someone,” from his self-titled record, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and the all-genre Top Albums Sales chart. The record has yielded gold-certified hits “Somethin’ I’m Good At” and most recently, “The Long Way.” The latter tune lends its name to his critically acclaimed and first ever sold-out headlining tour. Eldredge’s live shows feature his six chart-topping, gold and platinum-certified singles spanning three albums. The Paris, Ill., native released his Christmas record “Glow” in 2016 and earned an additional #1 song on the Holiday Music and Adult Contemporary charts with “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” a duet alongside Grammy-winner Meghan Trainor. The deluxe edition, featuring five brand new evergreen tracks, was released in October 2018.
DARCI LYNNE FARMER
Winning NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” at just 12 years old by the most votes for a final performance in the history of the show, singer/ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer impresses audiences across the country with her sweetheart disposition and undeniable, show-stopping talent beyond her years. Accompanied by her musical friends including divaesque rabbit Petunia, shy and soulful mouse Oscar and sarcastic old woman Edna. Singing through her friends helped the young entertainer find a voice inside she didn’t know she had and helped her overcome a lifelong struggle with shyness. An Oklahoma native, Farmer began participating in talent-based pageants at a young age and picked up ventriloquism shortly after. Two weeks later, Farmer began tackling talent shows, eventually making it to the biggest talent show on television, NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” Following her big win, she has been featured on NBC’s “Little Big Shots,” Food Network’s “Kids Baking Championship,” “Ellen” and “Today.” “Darci Lynne: My Hometown Christmas Special” will air on NBC this December. Farmer and her friends are continually on the road bringing smiles to audiences across the country. In 2019 Farmer will hit the road for her “Fresh Out of the Box Tour.” For dates and the latest information, visit www.darcilynne.com.
A highly accomplished musician, songwriter, actor, film producer and philanthropist, Legend is one of the most versatile and talented artists in entertainment today. He recently completed the prestigious and highly exclusive EGOT – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony – when he won as producer of NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.” In 2015, Legend, along with Common, won the Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy for their song “Glory” from the film “Selma,” which chronicled the 1965 civil rights march in Selma, Ala. The 10-time Grammy winner has released five studio albums and began his impressive Grammy run in 2006 when he won Best New Artist for his debut release, “Get Lifted,” which captured Best R&B Album. “Get Lifted,” along with each of his next three albums – “Once Again,” “Evolver” and “Love in the Future” – reached the Top 5 in album sales on the Billboard charts and achieved gold status. As a film producer, Legend worked on the 2016 film sensation “La La Land,” in which he also appeared. In addition, Legend has acted in several TV and film productions, including “Underground,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Soul Men.” On Broadway, Legend won a Tony last year as a producer of August Wilson’s “Jitney,” which won for Best Revival of a Play.
Martina McBride is a multiple Grammy-nominated country singer, whose incomparable vocals have kept her at the top of the charts garnering six No. 1 hits and 20 top 10 singles. Selling more than 18 million albums to date, McBride has earned 14 Gold, nine Platinum, three Double Platinum and two Triple Platinum certifications. McBride has been honored with more than 15 major music awards, including four wins from the Country Music Association and three Academy of Country Music Awards for Female Vocalist of the Year. On October 30, McBride released her new cookbook, “Martina’s Kitchen Mix: My Recipe Playlist for Real Life.” Her first book, “Around the Table,” a collection of her favorite recipes, hosting tips, practical menu planning advice and themed décor inspiration, came out in 2014. She also released a new Christmas album in October called “It’s the Holiday Season” featuring her favorite Christmas standards, all with the backing of a symphony. When McBride isn’t in the studio, she focuses her time on charitable causes dear to her heart. Through her Team Music Is Love charity initiative, McBride partners with non-profit causes to help many of the towns she's performing in. McBride also invites fans to join her team in making the world a better place through the power of music. Since 2011, Team Music Is Love has been responsible for many successful fundraising and volunteer projects helping causes such as hunger relief, cancer research, combating domestic violence and helping children in need. McBride was also recently awarded the Covenant House Beacon of Hope Award and Music Business Association’s prestigious 2015 Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award for her philanthropic efforts on behalf of domestic violence.
Three-time Grammy Award-winning and multi-platinum-selling artist Pentatonix has sold nearly 10 million albums in worldwide consumption and performed for hundreds of thousands of fans at their sold out shows across the globe. Their YouTube channel boasts more than 15.5 million subscribers, yielding over 3.4 billion video views. Their 2015 self-titled album is certified gold after debuting #1 on Billboard’s 200. Additionally, nine of their albums reached the top 10 on Billboard’s 200 chart (two albums reaching No. 1) and received multiple RIAA certifications for multi-platinum, platinum and gold selling albums and singles. Their tracks, “Mary, Did You Know?” and “Hallelujah” were certified platinum, while the Pentatonix original, “Can’t Sleep Love,” was certified gold. The group has had two holiday specials on NBC, released their tour documentary “On My Way Home” in 2015 and appeared in the feature film, “Pitch Perfect 2.” In October 2017, Pentatonix released a deluxe version of their certified platinum 2016 holiday album, “A Pentatonix Deluxe,” and completed their sold-out “A Pentatonix Christmas Tour” in December. The following year, in April 2018, Pentatonix released the first collection in the group’s PTX Presents series, “PTX Presents: Top Pop Vol. 1,” which features 11 PTX-curated modern pop performances, and just wrapped their 39-city North American tour in September. Their fourth holiday album, “Christmas Is Here!” is out now and is accompanied by a new single, “Making Christmas.” They have also announced their “Christmas Is Here! Tour” that starts in November and finishes with four nights at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.
Kellie Pickler was born and raised in North Carolina and now calls Nashville home. She first won hearts and gained national attention as a top finalist on “American Idol” at the age of 19. Pickler has released four albums – gold-certified “Small Town Girl,” which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart and was the bestselling debut by a solo country female that year; “Kellie Pickler,” which also debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart and featured her first top 10 hit and the platinum-certified single, “Best Days of Your Life”; “100 Proof,” named the #1 Country Album of the Year by Rolling Stone; and “The Woman I Am.” Her CMT docu-comedy series, “I Love Kellie Pickler,” debuted in 2015, propelling the network to its highest premiere since 2012. After three successful seasons, the series was retired so that Pickler could focus on “Pickler & Ben.” This holiday season Pickler stars in a Hallmark Channel Original Movie "Christmas at Graceland" where she plays a finance executive who rediscovers her passion and talent for singing. The film aired Nov. 17 and Pickler will perform beloved Christmas songs, including “Silent Night,” “Silver Bells,” “First Noel,” “I’ll Be Home for Christ-mas,” “Joy to the World” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Pickler is a “Dancing With the Stars” champion and an avid supporter of our servicemen and women. She has completed 11 USO Tours, performing for those serving abroad.
Howie Mandel has remained a constant force in show business for more than 30 years. Mandel will return as host of the game show “Deal or No Deal” when it premieres Dec. 5 on CNBC. For nine seasons he has served as a judge on NBC’s hit summer talent competition series, “America’s Got Talent,” which recently wrapped its milestone 13th season. He will also be seen as a judge on the global winter edition of the series, “America’s Got Talent: The Champions,” which will premiere Jan. 7. His additional work as a host, actor, and/or executive producer include “Take It All” and “Howie Do It” for NBC, “Deal With It” for TBS and “Mobbed” for Fox. Previously, Mandel received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program for “Deal or No Deal” and a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Game Show Host for the syndicated version of the show. Mandel’s versatile career has encompassed virtually all aspects of the entertainment spectrum, including television, film and stage. From his work on the Emmy Award-winning “St. Elsewhere,” to the international animated children’s series “Bobby’s World,” Mandel has become a mainstay of the American comedy scene. In 2009, Mandel added author to his resume when he released his frank, funny and no-holds-barred memoir, “Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me.” The memoir revealed his ongoing struggle with OCD and ADHD, and how it has shaped his life and career. It made The New York Times bestseller list on its first week and remained on the list for several consecutive weeks. Mandel has done countless comedy specials both on cable and network television. He has also hosted his own syndicated talk show, “The Howie Mandel Show,” and continues to be a mainstay on the talk show circuit. He also continues to perform as many as 200 standup comedy shows each year throughout the U.S. and Canada.
ABOUT THE REGIONAL SHOW (7-8 P.M. ET) HOSTS:
Mario Lopez is the consummate entertainer. He is the host of the Emmy Award winning show “Extra,” and the national iHeart radio programs “On with Mario Lopez” and “iHeartRadio Countdown with Mario Lopez.” Lopez is a constant presence on the pop culture scene with a legion of fans across the board. Actor, NYT Best Selling author, producer and host, Lopez’s prolific career has made him one of the most sought-after personalities in entertainment today. Some of Lopez’s acting credits include This Is Us, Jane the Virgin, Nip/Tuck and Saved by the Bell, among many others. In 2008, Mario Lopez made his Broadway debut as Zach in the revival of A Chorus Line where he met his wife Courtney. Mario and Courtney have two adorable kids, Gia and Dominic and two dogs, Julio and Juanita.
Stefan Holt co-anchors NBC 4 New York’s 4 p.m and 11 p.m. daily newscasts. He also contributes to NBC 4 New York I-Team investigations throughout the Tri-State area. Holt was one of the first U.S. journalists to report live from Havana following the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro. He also co-anchored NBC 4 New York’s news coverage from the 2016 Presidential Debate at Hofstra University and NBC 4 New York’s 2016 Election Night coverage from 30 Rock. He later travelled to Washington, D.C. to co-anchor the station’s coverage of the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. In recognition of his commitment to journalistic excellence, Holt was recognized with a regional Edward R. Murrow award as part of NBC 4 New York’s team coverage of the 2017 Tribeca terrorist attack. Holt has also been recognized with three New York Emmys® for NBC 4 New York’s team coverage of the 2016 Hoboken rail crash, 2017 Presidential Inauguration and the 2017 Bronx Lebanon Hospital shooting.
Natalie Pasquarella co-anchors NBC 4 New York’s 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. daily newscasts. She also contributes to NBC 4 New York I-Team investigations throughout the Tri-State area. Throughout her time at NBC 4 New York, Pasquarella has covered many of the Tri-State’s most memorable stories. This included the 2015 visit of Pope Francis to New York City and the 2016 Presidential Debate at Hofstra University. Pasquarella also co-anchored NBC 4 New York’s 2016 Election Night coverage from 30 Rock and later travelled to Washington, D.C. to co-anchor the station’s coverage of the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. In 2018, Pasquarella travelled to London to cover the 2018 Royal Wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. In recognition of her commitment to journalistic excellence, Pasquarella has been awarded four New York Emmys® as part of NBC 4 New York’s team coverage of the 2016 Dallas Police attacks, the 2016 Hoboken rail crash and the 2017 Bronx Lebanon Hospital shooting.
Sharon Pannozzo, Sharon.Pannozzo@nbcuni.com, 212-664-5152
Lauren Manasevit, Lauren.Manasevit@nbcuni.com, 212-664-2193
Taylor Griffin, Taylor.Griffin@nbcuni.com, 212-664-6978
For media credentials at Rockefeller Center:
Brady Littlefield, Blittlefield@rubenstein.com, 212/843-9220