News

‘CHRISTMAS IN ROCKEFELLER CENTER’ IMPRESSIVE LINEUP GROWS WITH ELLA MAI, NEW YORK CITY BALLET, ROB THOMAS, RADIO CITY ROCKETTES ON NOV. 28

Billy Porter, PAL Cops & Kids Chorus in New York City Added to One-Hour Regional Show Prior to National Broadcast

NEW YORK — Nov. 27, 2018 — Ella Mai, the New York City Ballet’s production of “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker,” Rob Thomas and the Radio City Rockettes have been added to the list of spectacular performances slated for this year’s “Christmas in Rockefeller Center®” telecast on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 8-10 p.m. ET/PT.

The new additions join previously announced performers Diana Ross, Tony Bennett & Diana Krall, Brett Eldredge, Darci Lynne Farmer, John Legend, Martina McBride, Pentatonix and Kellie Pickler in the annual celebration. NBC’s “Today” anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker and Craig Melvin are set to host.

Tony Award winner Billy Porter as well as the PAL Cops & Kids Chorus in New York City, with a special introduction by Tony Danza, will also lend their voices to the additional live hour of the special to be broadcast on select NBC stations (7-8 p.m. ET). The regional hour will be co-hosted by “Extra’s” Mario Lopez and WNBC’s Stefan Holt and Natalie Pasquarella, and also feature additional songs from Diana Krall, Brett Eldredge, Darci Lynn Farmer, Martina McBride, Pentatonix and Kellie Pickler. Station list included below. 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 ADDITIONAL NATIONAL PERFORMERS:

ELLA MAI

Ella Mai is a British singer-songwriter. She released her first EP, “Time,” in 2016, followed by her second EP, “Change,” later that year. Her third EP, “Ready,” featured “Boo’d Up,” which later became her breakthrough hit. Ella Mai has served as the opening act for both Kehlani and Bruno Mars on tour, where she continued to gain the public’s attention. In August, she released the single “Trip,” which peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. She released her self-titled debut in October of this year, which charted #5 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums and #1 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums upon release last month. Her album includes the smash multi-platinum hit singles “Boo’d Up” and “Trip.”

NEW YORK CITY BALLET

New York City Ballet’s acclaimed production of “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” premiered in 1954 and has been performed in New York City every year since. Set to Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky’s glorious score, “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” features choreography by Balanchine, scenery by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, costumes by Karinska and lighting by Mark Stanley, after the original design by Ronald Bates. More than 100,000 people see the production each year. The New York City Ballet (NYCB) will perform “Candy Canes” from Act 2 of “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.” The segment will feature NYCB Principal Dancer Daniel Ulbricht as well as students from the School of American Ballet, NYCB’s official school. The New York City Ballet opened its annual season of “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” on Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and will run until Dec. 30.

ROB THOMAS

Rob Thomas is one of modern music’s most compelling and commercially successful artists. For 20 years, he has been the frontman and primary composer for Matchbox Twenty, leading the quintet to multiplatinum success over the course of four albums and a string of #1 hits. Thomas’ two solo albums, 2005’s platinum-certified No. 1 album “…Something to Be” and 2009’s “cradlesong” generated the hit singles “Her Diamonds” and “Someday.” Thomas made history with “…Something to Be” as having the first album by a male artist from a rock or pop group to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 since the chart had debuted. With “cradlesong” he made history once again as the only male artist with multiple #1 hits at Adult Top 40. His last release, 2015’s “The Great Unknown,” was praised by the likes of Rolling Stone. Thomas has also collaborated with Mick Jagger on the #1 single “Disease,” Willie Nelson and Santana, the latter resulting in 1999’s “Smooth” — the Latin-tinged blockbuster that earned Thomas three Grammy Awards and spent 12 weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. In 2004, he was the first-ever honoree of the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s prestigious Hal David Starlight Award, created to recognize a composer in the early years of his or her career that has already made a lasting impact. He has won numerous BMI and ASCAP Awards, and has earned the Songwriter of the Year crown from both Billboard and BMI. Thomas is also known as an electrifying live performer, drawing fans of all ages to Matchbox Twenty’s concerts as well as to his solo shows around the globe. Thomas is currently finishing up his next studio album which will be out in spring 2019.

THE RADIO CITY ROCKETTES

“The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes,” presented by Chase, is a beloved holiday tradition and seen by more than one million people each year at Radio City Music Hall. This year the show features a brand-new finale scene, “Christmas Lights,” a stunning example of how innovation is blended with tradition. The finale begins at the conclusion of the “Living Nativity” scene with the original light of Christmas – the North Star. Fragments of light suddenly appear as aerialists fly across the Great Stage. One hundred Intel Shooting Star mini drones, representing Christmas lights, create various images and animations that are synchronized to music and lighting effects. The Radio City Rockettes are then revealed, performing new choreography in glamorous new costumes designed by Tony and Drama Desk Award-nominated costume designer Emilio Sosa. The production is running now through Jan. 1, 2019 and tickets are on sale at www.rockettes.com/christmas and at the Radio City box office.

ABOUT THE ADDED REGIONAL PERFORMERS:

BILLY PORTER

Billy Porter stars on Ryan Murphy’s “Pose” on FX and has made several appearances this season on “American Horror Story.” Porter is a Tony and Grammy Award-winning actor, singer, director, composer and playwright from Pittsburgh. He is best known for his star turn as Lola in the smash hit Broadway musical "Kinky Boots," for which he won the 2013 Drama Desk and Tony Awards for Best Actor in a Musical. Other Broadway acting credits include the Tony-nominated Broadway musical, "Shuffle Along," "Miss Saigon," "Five Guys Named Moe" and "Grease." His one-man show, "Ghetto Superstar: The Man That I Am," was nominated for a 2005 GLAAD Media Award. Porter's film and television credits include Baz Luhrman's "The Get Down," "The Humbling" directed by Barry Levinson, "Another World," "Twisted" and "Law & Order." As a recording artist, Porter's solo albums include his first CD, "Untitled," and his sophomore album, "At the Corner of Broadway + Soul - LIVE." "Billy's Back on Broadway," was released in 2014. Porter's newest album, "The Soul of Richard Rodgers," is released on Sony Masterworks. As a director, Porter directed the revivals of George C. Wolf's plays, "The Colored Museum" and "Top Dog/Underdog" as well as the critically acclaimed recreation of "The Wiz.” Porter is currently filming the Paramount feature film "Limited Partners," starring Tiffany Haddish, which will be out next summer.

THE PAL COPS & KIDS CHORUS IN NEW YORK CITY

The PAL Cops & Kids Chorus in New York City evolved from a songwriting project that engaged NYPD officers and PAL (Police Athletic League) teens in a process of creativity and discovery. The experience was so impactful that the officers and teens have continued to practice and perform original work and standards from the American songbook throughout the year. The PAL Cops & Kids Chorus provides a unique opportunity for New York City youth to form genuine relationships with NYPD officers, build self-esteem and perform in a variety of exciting venues throughout New York City. The Chorus is an initiative within the PAL Acting Program, under the leadership of PAL Board member Tony Danza. New York City’s Police Athletic League is the first and finest civilian-run PAL in the country. Founded in 1914, PAL has served the city’s young people for over 100 years. PAL provides recreational, educational, cultural and social activities to 30,000 boys and girls annually. It is also the city’s largest, independent, nonprofit youth organization. For more information, please visit www.palnyc.org.

TONY DANZA

Most recently starring in the Netflix series “The Good Cop,” Tony Danza has been one of the world’s most beloved and iconic entertainers for over 40 years. Perhaps best known for his starring roles on two of television’s most cherished and long-running series, “Taxi” and “Who’s The Boss,” Danza has also starred in hit films such as “Angels In Outfield,” “She’s Out of Control,” “Hollywood Knights,” and “Don Jon.” Well established as a song-and-dance man, Danza often tours with his hit live show, “Standards & Stories,” with the New York Times raving, “Tony’s a live wire who tap dances, plays the ukulele, tells stories and radiates irresistible charm. … He exudes the kind of charisma that can’t be taught.” Danza has starred on Broadway in “The Producers,” “A View from the Bridge,” and most recently received rave reviews for his performance in the Broadway musical comedy “Honeymoon In Vegas,” with the New York Times calling his performance “sly genius” and a “career high.”

STATIONS AIRING REGIONAL SHOW (7-8 P.M. ET):

WBGH (Binghamton, N.Y.), WYNC (Boston, Mass. – satellite of WBTS), WBTS (Boston, Mass.), WCBD (Charleston, S.C.), WVIR (Charlottesville, Va.), WETM (Elmira, N.Y.), WNBW (Gainesville, Fla.), WVIT (Hartford, Conn.), WTLV (Jacksonville, Fla.), WGAL (Lancaster, Pa.), WTVJ (Miami, Fla.), WNBC (New York, N.Y.), WKTD (Norfolk, Va.), WAVY (Norfolk, Va.), WPTV (Palm Beach, Fla.), WCAU (Philadelphia, Pa.), WRAL (Raleigh-Durham, N.C.), WRC (Washington, D.C. – jip at 7:30pm), WRDE (Salisbury, Md.), WTWC (Tallahassee, Fla.), WKTV (Utica, N.Y.), WVNC (Watertown, N.Y.), WTOV (Wheeling, W.V.)

MEDIA CONTACTS:
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