Today, July 4th, America's national Independence Day celebration kicks off our country's 236th birthday, as A CAPITOL FOURTH on PBS welcomes a brand new host, Emmy Award-winning television personality Tom Bergeron. Hot off another winning season as host of the hit TV series, DANCING WITH THE STARS, Bergeron will lead an all-star cast in a patriotic evening of unrivaled musical performances, topped off by the greatest display of fireworks anywhere in the nation. The multi award-winning event will feature acclaimed Broadway and television star Megan Hilty (SMASH); singer-songwriter Javier Colon (winner of THE VOICE); R&B superstars Kool & The Gang; four time Tony-nominated Broadway star Kelli O'Hara; the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly; plus a tribute to Team USA honoring the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams (additional talent to be announced).
Broadcast live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, A CAPITOL FOURTH will air live in HD on PBS tonight, July 4, 2012 from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. ET (check local listings) before a concert audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home, as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network. The program can also be heard live in stereo over NPR member stations nationwide.
A CAPITOL FOURTH has truly become America's favorite Independence Day celebration, and a cornerstone of PBS's annual programming line-up, as is evidenced by the ratings. During the 2010-2011 season, A CAPITOL FOURTH took the top prize, for the second consecutive year, as the number one rated program in primetime. With a 4.6 Nielsen rating A CAPITOL FOURTH reached over 11 million viewers.
"What an honor to be in the nation's capital for America's biggest birthday party," said Tom Bergeron. "Hosting A CAPITOL FOURTH enables me to celebrate two things I'm a big fan of - America and PBS!"
Added Executive Producer Jerry Colbert, "We are thrilled that Tom Bergeron will lead our nation in this star-spangled celebration. We are also humbled that the viewers have chosen this unique live television event as their favorite. With the eyes of America upon us, we join as one family to celebrate our freedoms, using the magical medium of television."
The 2012 broadcast of A CAPITOL FOURTH will include two unique segments:
A rousing and patriotic send off to Team USA as they head to the London 2012 Olympic Games featuring current and past U.S. Olympians as well as members of the U.S. Paralympic team; and
A musical tribute to beloved American legend Gene Kelly, in celebration of his 100th birthday, featuring the National Symphony Orchestra performing a medley of Hollywood classics including SINGIN' IN THE RAIN and AN AMERICAN IN PARIS.
Offering viewers extended coverage of the fireworks display, A CAPITOL FOURTH will capture the stunning pyrotechnics from every vantage point with twenty TV cameras stationed around the city – including the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Washington Monument and across the Potomac River. The show will be capped off with a rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" complete with live cannon fire provided by The U.S. Army Presidential Salute Battery, an audience favorite and now an A CAPITOL FOURTH tradition. Also participating in the event will be The Choral Arts Society of Washington, along with The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The U.S. Army Ceremonial Band, the Quantico Marine Corps Band, Members of the Armed Forces carrying the State and Territorial Flags and the Armed Forces Color Guard provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.
The program is a co-production of Jerry Colbert of Capital Concerts and WETA, Washington, D.C. For A CAPITOL FOURTH, executive producer Jerry Colbert and producer Michael Colbert have assembled an award-winning production team that features the top Hollywood talent behind some of television's most prestigious entertainment awards shows. This includes: Emmy award-winning producer Walter C. Miller, whose credits include the GRAMMY AWARDS and COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS; award-winning director Paul Miller whose credits include THE COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE; and veteran television writer Jon Macks whose credits include the TONIGHT SHOW WITH Jay Leno, the ACADEMY AWARDS and the EMMY AWARDS.
Capital Concerts is the production force behind two of television's longest-running and highest-rated live programs commemorating America's most important holidays. THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT, the nation's tribute to our men and women in uniform, and A CAPITOL FOURTH, our country's biggest birthday party, have become American traditions that have consistently ranked among the highest rated programs on PBS over the past decade. Both holiday specials have been honored with over 70 awards including the New York Film Festival Award, the Telly Award, the Golden Cine Award, the Videographer Award, the National Education Association Award, the Aurora Award, the Christopher Award, the Communicator's Award, the AXIEM Award, the Omni Award and the Writer's Guild of America Award.
A CAPITOL FOURTH is made possible by grants from The Boeing Company, the National Park Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Department of the Army, PBS and public television stations nationwide. Air travel is provided by American Airlines.