COSTAS & LAUER TO HOST NBC'S COVERAGE OF BEIJING OLYMPICS OPENING CEREMONY
New Special Start Time 7:30 p.m. ET/PT Friday on NBC
Beijing, China - Aug. 4, 2008 - NBC Olympic primetime host Bob Costas will host the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony alongside co-host Matt Lauer, NBC's 'Today' co-anchor, this Friday, August 8, 2008 - 8.8.08 - at a special early start time announced yesterday, 7:30 p.m. ET/PT. Costas and Lauer will be joined by reporters from NBC Sports and NBC News: NBC Sports reporters Andrea Joyce and Bob Neumeier and NBC News' Richard Engel, Chief Foreign Correspondent; and Peter Alexander, Correspondent. The announcement was made today by Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics and Executive Producer of NBC Universal's Beijing Olympic coverage.
"In a world that has as many tensions as our world today, there is a moment of hope that comes from seeing all the world's best, young athletes gather peacefully together," said Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics, who is working his ninth Olympics and seventh as executive producer of NBC's coverage. "When the record 205 nations, many of whom are in conflict with one another, come together on Friday it will represent a greater sense of cooperation than we get from any political body, including the U.N. The fact that the three most powerful men in the world will all be in one place watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony, is testament to how very curious the world is about China and how China deal with these Olympics."
"The Olympic Opening Ceremony is the most important event for the vast majority of the athletes here. Most won't come close to a medal, and for them, this is the pinnacle of their athletic careers."
NBC Universal, broadcasting its 11th Olympics and surpassing ABC for the most Olympics broadcast by any network, will present an unprecedented 3,600 hours of Beijing Olympic Games coverage (nearly 2,900 live hours in total), across the most platforms, of any Summer Olympics in history.
COSTAS: "In addition to the off-the-charts spectacular Opening Ceremony that the organizers have planned, what will become immediately apparent to an American audience is that these Olympics are so eagerly anticipated here in China."
LAUER: "In many ways the Opening Ceremony sets the tone for the two weeks of competion and celebration that will follow. There is obviously a lot at stake for the Chinese, and I'm I thrilled to have the chance to be a part of a broadcast that will bring this story back to all the viewers at home."
The 2008 Beijing Olympics will be Bob Costas' eighth for NBC Sports and his seventh as primetime host. The 19-time Emmy Award winner is one of the most respected and honored broadcasters of his generation. Costas has won acclaim and Emmy Awards each year for his work as primetime host from Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Salt Lake City and Athens. He served as late night host in 1988 from Seoul. Costas hosts NBC's "Football Night in America," a complete recap of each Sunday in the NFL. Costas, who has the longest tenure of the network's sports announcers, joined NBC in 1980.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics will be Matt Lauer's sixth Olympics for 'Today' and his first in a role on the primetime Opening Ceremony broadcast. Lauer will begin his broadcast duties for "Today" from Beijing today, Monday, August 4. Lauer has served as co-anchor of "Today" since 1997, he joined the show in 1994 as news anchor.
Meredith Vieira and Ann Curry will join Lauer in Beijing Thursday, August 7 on "Today's" exclusive set on the Olympic Green. "Today's" set is centrally located in Olympic Park and boasts outstanding views of the remarkable Birds Nest Olympic stadium, The Water Cube (the aquatics center) and the National Indoor Stadium (the gymnastics venue).
Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou is the chief director of both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. He is best known internationally for the films Raise the Red Lantern (1991) and House of Flying Daggers (2004).
The Opening Ceremony will officially begin the Beijing Olympic Games but Olympic competition actually begins with live opening round soccer matches on MSNBC. The USA women's team faces Norway live Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. ET and the USA men take on Japan live Thursday at 4:55 a.m. ET.
NBC OLYMPICS OPENING CEREMONY FACTS & FIGURES:
Bob Costas (8th Olympics, 7th as Primetime Host)
Matt Lauer (6th Olympics, 1st as Opening Ceremony Co-Host)
REPORTERS: Lester Holt, Richard Engel, Peter Alexander, Andrea Joyce, Bob
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics
David Neal, Executive Vice President, NBC Olympics
DIRECTOR: Bucky Gunts, Head of Production, NBC Olympics
PARADE OF NATIONS: The 205 nations will enter the Olympic Stadium in order of their Chinese names, with two exceptions. As per tradition, Greece marches first and China, as the host nation, marches last. The USA will march 140th. Note: Because Chinese characters cannot be placed in alphabetical order, the list is made using the number of strokes per first character in the Chinese name of the country. If the first character is the same, the number of strokes in the second character is used. If different characters have the same number of strokes, a hierarchy of characters is followed to determine the order.
WORLD LEADERS ATTENDING: There are many world leaders reportedly attending the Opening Ceremony, including: President George W. Bush, USA; President Hu Jintao, China; Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Russia; President Nicolas Sarkozy; France; Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Japan; Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Australia; President Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia; President Stipe Mesic, Croatia; and Head of Government Albert Pintat Santolaria, Andorra.
THE BIRD'S NEST: One of the iconic structures of the Beijing Games, the Bird's Nest, as the National Stadium is known, can hold 91,000 spectators. The Stadium lies on the traditional north-south axis of the city, directly north from the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. The exterior of the stadium consists of twisted steel beams that are designed to resemble the twigs of a nest, hence the venue's nickname. The project required over 90 million pounds of steel or enough to stretch 79 miles.