By Lisa Ramsperger
U.S. Olympic Committee
USPC Press Release
NEW YORK, NEW YORK (December 27, 2008) Intime for the holiday season, NBC will air a primetime special “The Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony: TV Event of the Year” todaay Dec. 27 from 8-10 p.m. ET/PT hosted by NBC Sports & Olympics host Bob Costas and “Today” co-host Matt Lauer. Costas and Lauer were hosts of the Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony on 8.8.08. The special will take a new look at what was one of the great events of 2008, in which the world came together in record numbers to watch the critically acclaimed Ceremony. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 2 billion people worldwide watched the Opening Ceremony, which Reuters described as “a dazzling display.”
NBC drew a record audience for the critically lauded Ceremony. In the nearly 50 years of televised Olympic Games, NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony in Beijing was the MOST VIEWED EVER for a non-U.S. summer Olympic Games with nearly 70 million total viewers.
Acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, whom Time Magazine recently ranked No. 5 in their Person of the Year issue, directed the Ceremony at the “Bird’s Nest,” which featured a cast of 15,000. The show celebrated Chinese culture and its long, rich history, through spectacular use of fireworks, lights, colors, music, synchronized performances and climaxing with a dramatic lighting of the Olympic Cauldron. The special will not include the Parade of Nations.
Steven Spielberg, who wrote Zhang Yimou’s entry for Time Magazine said, “On the eighth day of the eighth month of 2008, 2 billion TV viewers and thousands in attendance in the now famous Bird's Nest were treated to an unforgettable spectacle…In one evening of visual and emotional splendor, he educated, enlightened and entertained us all. In doing so, Zhang secured himself a place in world history.”
USA Today called the Opening Ceremony an “astounding mix of cutting-edge technology and ancient traditions, its barrage of splash, spectacle, sound, light and the kind of thrill you only get from a cast of thousands…rewrote the record books.”
“The Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony: TV Event of the Year,” also takes a look back at the greatest moments of the Beijing Games, including the record-setting performance from Michael Phelps. It also will include a brief look forward to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.