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[11/28/05 - 12:00 AM]
Harry Connick JR. to Front Toys for Tots Fund Drive During NBC's 8th Annual 'Christmas in Rockefeller Center,' November 30 (8-9 P.M. ET/PT)

[via press release from NBC]

HARRY CONNICK JR. TO FRONT TOYS FOR TOTS FUND DRIVE DURING NBC'S 8TH ANNUAL 'CHRISTMAS IN ROCKEFELLER CENTER,' NOVEMBER 30 (8-9 P.M. ET/PT)

HARRY CONNICK JR. TO HELP FRONT TOYS FOR TOTS FUND DRIVE FOR CHILDREN DISPLACED BY HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA DURING NBC'S 8TH ANNUAL 'CHRISTMAS IN ROCKEFELLER CENTER,' NOVEMBER 30 (8-9 P.M. ET/PT)

Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood, Regis Philbin, Brian Wilson, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, and Earth, Wind & Fire to Perform

Al Roker ("Today") and Megan Mullally ("Will & Grace") to Co-Host Holiday Special

NEW YORK - November 28, 2005 - New Orleans native Harry Connick Jr. ("Happy Elf" and "Will & Grace") to help front the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation fund drive to benefit the children displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita during NBC's 8th annual "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" spectacular, telecast live on Tuesday, Nov. 30 (8-9:00 p.m. ET/PT). Hosted by Al Roker ("Today") and Megan Mullally ("Will & Grace"), the 73rd tree-lighting extravaganza will feature performances by Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood ("American Idol"), Regis Philbin, Brian Wilson ("The Beach Boys"), the Brian Setzer Orchestra, and Earth, Wind & Fire.

For the first time, NBC will partner with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to raise money for the children displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Connick Jr. and a few of the children personally affected by the disasters will be on hand to help front this effort, and funds raised will be used to purchase toys to be distributed to children whose lives were devastated by the storms. Donations can be made via the Toys for Tots Web site (www.toysfortots.org) or a toll-free number (866-IM4-TOYS) or (866-464-8697).

Performing from beautifully decorated stages located at the Top of the Rock and a rooftop overlooking New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, to stages located beneath the iconic statue of Prometheus and in front of the majestic tree, each artist's powerful performance will exemplify the beauty and spirit of the holiday season.

Prior to the airing of the network special, WNBC, NBC's New York flagship station, will broadcast an additional live hour of the special (7-8 p.m. ET). Performances exclusive to the limited-market telecast include Goo Goo Dolls and Il Divo. WNBC has been the home to the Rockefeller Center tree lighting, working with co-owner of Rockefeller Center, Tishman Speyer Properties.

This year's tree is a Norway Spruce belonging to Arnold Raquet of Wayne, N.J. Estimated to be between 60 and 70 years old, the tree weighs nine tons and is 74-feet high and 42-feet wide. It will be decked out with 30,000 colored bulbs lining five miles of wire. The tree will be crowned with a crystal star designed by Swarovski, which was unveiled last year. The star is adorned with 25,000 crystals and one million facets that will radiate over midtown Manhattan from its perch atop the 71-foot tree. The star measures 9 -1/2 feet in diameter and 1-1/2 feet deep, making it the largest star to grace a Rockefeller tree.

The tradition of the tree itself began in the Great Depression during the construction of the Rockefeller Center complex in 1931. The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began formally in 1933 when a tree was decked with 700 lights and placed in front of the then eight-month old RCA Building, which is now the GE Building. The Christmas tradition was enhanced in 1936 with the opening of the Rockefeller Plaza outdoor ice skating pond. NBC-TV televised the first tree lighting in 1951 on "The Kate Smith Show" and as part of the nationwide "Howdy Doody" television show from 1953-55.

"Christmas in Rockefeller Center" is produced for a national audience by WNBC and TWI, the television division of IMG (International Management Group). Steve Mayer and Adele Rifkin are executive producers, Mike Mathis is event producer and Steve Grymes is producer/director.





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