This Holiday Season, NBC Will Present More Original Programming Than Ever Before
NBC unwrapped its 2008 holiday specials lineup early with an accent on original and family-friendly programs featuring the new animated special "Macy's Presents Little Spirit: Christmas in New York," "Letters to Santa – A Muppets Christmas" and three new holiday countdown specials — "Greatest Holiday TV Specials and Movies," "Greatest Holiday Songs" and "Greatest Holiday Home Videos." These new holiday specials join traditional NBC favorites including the "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," "The National Dog Show Presented by Purina," "Christmas in Rockefeller Center," the annual airing of the feature film classic "It's a Wonderful Life" and "The 120th Tournament of Roses Parade."
The announcements were made today by Craig Plestis, Executive Vice President, Alternative Programming, Development and Specials, NBC Entertainment.
"This holiday season, NBC will present more original programming than ever before with all-new specials from the beloved Muppets as well as 'Little Spirit,' which are likely to become new holiday classics," said Plestis. "These projects will also join new renditions of our annual favorites such as the 'Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade' and the 'National Dog Show,' plus the beauty of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree-lighting. We want to give our viewers, especially families, some great original shows that they can gather around the TV and watch together this holiday season."
"Macy's Presents Little Spirit: Christmas in New York" will be broadcast on Wednesday, December 10 (8-9 p.m. ET). Likewise, "Letters to Santa – A Muppets Christmas" will be shown on Wednesday, December 17 (8-9 p.m. ET).
"Christmas in Rockefeller Center" will air on Wednesday, December 3 (8-9 p.m. ET). "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" will be broadcast on Thursday, November 27 (9 a.m.-12 noon in each time zone) and "The Purina National Dog Show" will follow the parade from 12 – 2 p.m. ET.
NBC will once again reprise "It's a Wonderful Life" — the most famous Christmas film of them all — from Oscar-winning director Frank Capra, on December 13 (8-11 p.m. ET) and 24 (8-11 p.m. ET).
In addition, NBC will celebrate the "120th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade" live from Pasadena, California on Tuesday, January 1, 2009 (11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET).
Airdates for the three Holiday Countdown Specials will be announced later.
In "Macy's Presents Little Spirit: Christmas in New York," an all-star cast that includes Danny DeVito, Lucy Liu, Freddy Rodriguez, Brenda Song and NBC News' Brian Williams lend their voices to the new animated holiday special that features original songs and music by Duncan Sheik, the Tony Award-winning writer and composer of Broadway's "Spring Awakening." The unique program stylistically blends the look of traditional painting with contemporary 3-D technology – creating an aesthetic that is both classic and innovative.
The story begins at the peak of the holiday season as two sisters spend a taxi ride in New York City listening to an exciting story from a gruff but amiable cabbie (DeVito). He describes a boy named Leo who moves to Manhattan just before Christmas — but overwhelmed by the size of the city and its many new faces, he soon loses his beloved dog, Ramona. Suddenly a magical creature named "Little Spirit" appears to help him search for Ramona as they begin a journey of discovery that will introduce Leo to new friends and colorful places in the city as Christmas nears. "Macy's presents Little Spirit: Christmas in New York" is executive-produced by Macy's Parade and Entertainment Group, Mediaedge:cia and Curious Pictures."
In "Letters to Santa — A Muppets Christmas," the Emmy and Grammy-award winning Muppets deliver an all new one-hour special filled with songs, mayhem and heaps of holiday high spirits. On Christmas Eve, Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo and the rest of the gang mistakenly avert three letters from making their way to Santa Claus. Can they get the letters to Santa in time? Needless to say, nothing—not even Miss Piggy's planned trip to the tropics–can stand between the Muppets and a happy Christmas. With songs by Paul Williams (songwriter for "The Muppet Movie"), an all-star cast including Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Griffiths, Tony Sirico, Steve Schirripa and Madison Pettis, and a heartfelt message about the true meaning of the holiday season, "Letters to Santa–A Muppets Christmas" is a new holiday family classic. Produced by Muppets Productions, Inc.
NBC will present three holiday countdown specials from Juma Entertainment, executive produced by Robert Horowitz and Lewis Fenton:
"Greatest Holiday TV Specials and Movies" features clips from the most-loved holiday TV specials and films. From animated TV classics to the must see holiday films of the past and present, we'll rank the greatest holiday moments that ever graced the screen.
"Greatest Holiday Songs" will count down the best performances of both classic and contemporary Christmas songs. From timeless tunes from the great crooners to recent essentials from the more modern pop stars, we will recount the greatest songs of the season.
"Greatest Holiday Home Videos" goes home for the holidays as we count down the most hilarious and entertaining holiday moments sent in from families' home videos across the country. This special will be an hour of non-stop family fun where we choose from thousands of submissions, and rank the best America has to offer from holiday mishaps to memorable moments to classic Christmas season chaos.
The "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" celebrates its 82nd anniversary on NBC as America's favorite Thanksgiving Day parade features all the spectacular pageantry, fun and surprises that have made the annual New York City extravaganza a perennial favorite. Heralding the start of the Christmas season, the beloved 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.
John O' Hurley returns as host of "The National Dog Show Presented By Purina," a purebred canine competition that is part of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia's annual dog show. The show — one of the oldest and most prestigious sporting events in North America — is one of only five remaining "benched" dog shows where the public can interact with the show dogs. With expert commentary from David Frei, "the dean" of dog show commentators, the show is expected to feature more than 2,000 of the nation's leading canines representing more than 150 breeds, including some of the world's most largest, smallest and most exotic breeds, all vying for "Best in Show" honors. "The National Dog Show Presented by Purina" is a property of NBC and Carson International of Ketchum, Idaho.
"Christmas in Rockefeller Center" is a star-studded, live broadcast from Rockefeller Center in New York City and celebrates the lighting of the world's most famous Christmas tree. The special will include a popular musical lineup celebrating the current hits and favorite holiday music from the world of entertainment.
NBC again presents this exclusive and special telecast of Frank Capra's 1946 holiday classic, "It's a Wonderful Life," starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. The film follows the life of George Bailey (Stewart) from childhood to maturity in the town of Bedford Falls. On what might be his last Christmas Eve, a discouraged Bailey wants to throw his life away. Fortunately, Clarence (Henry Travers), a second-class angel, is sent to show him the value of life. After Clarence gives Bailey a view of Bedford Falls without him, Bailey realizes how precious his life is and gets a second chance. He comes to learn that Clarence was right when he said, "No man is a failure who has friends." The film, which earned Oscar nominations for best picture, director, actor and film editing, was produced and directed by Capra.
NBC will celebrate the "120th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade" live from Pasadena, California on New Year's Day. The parade will feature all the lavish floral floats, spectacular marching bands and high-stepping equestrian teams that have made the event the most popular New Year's Day celebration in the world. This year's Rose Queen and her court will also appear, along with special guests on magnificent floats. NBC has been broadcasting the parade for 82 years, beginning on radio in 1927 and then televising the event beginning in 1954. Additional details for the parade will be announced at a later date.