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NBC rings in holidays with heart-warming specials

by jmaloni

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Tue, Nov 25th 2014 07:00 am

Talent includes Jason Alexander, Sara Bareilles, Tony Bennett, Michael Bublé, Lady Gaga, Dennis Haysbert, Cyndi Lauper, Seth MacFarlane, Idina Menzel, Jim Parsons, John Ratzenberger, LeAnn Rimes, Allison Williams, Christopher Walken and Trisha Yearwood

From "Macy's Thanksgiving Parade" and "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" to classic "SNL," original animation, and a new "Peter Pan Live!," NBC's lineup is full of family fun and holiday cheer

NBC celebrates the 2014 holiday season with a slate of special programming that presents heart-warming annual traditions "Macy's Thanksgiving Parade," "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" and the beloved classic "It's a Wonderful Life," along with concert specials by One Direction and Michael Bublé, and the premieres of two brand-new animated specials, featuring original songs that are destined to become holiday classics themselves: "How Murray Saved Christmas," from four-time Emmy winner Mike Reiss ("The Simpsons") and "Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas," starring the voice talent of four-time Emmy winner Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory").

At the centerpiece of the network's holiday programming, NBC's most anticipated TV event of the year, "Peter Pan Live!," starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken, brings one of Broadway's most treasured plays to television in a new production from award-winning producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

Rounding out the holiday fare are favorites "The National Dog Show Presented by Purina" and iconic clips from the best of "Saturday Night Live's" Thanksgiving and Christmas shows over the past four decades, as well as a two-hour special of NBC's popular musical competition series "The Sing-Off" and NBC's annual patriotic salute to the men and women who serve our country, "WWE Tribute to the Troops," all leading up to the ringing in of 2015 with "New Year's Eve with Carson Daly," live from Times Square.

Below is the holiday schedule:

•"The Making of Peter Pan Live!" on Wednesday, Nov. 26 (8-9 p.m. ET)

From Peacock Productions, this hourlong special will go behind the scenes to give viewers an inside look at the teamwork it takes to create the event "Peter Pan Live" (airing Thursday, Dec. 4, 8 p.m.). Watch Williams learn to fly and Walken practice his sword fighting as he prepares to play the villainous Captain Hook. From casting to costume design, this is an all-access pass to whet viewers' appetites for all things "Peter Pan Live!"

•"SNL Thanksgiving" on Wednesday, Nov. 26 (9-11 p.m. ET)

A hilarious compilation of the best Thanksgiving-themed clips from 40 years of the iconic late-night series "Saturday Night Live."

•"Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" on Thursday, Nov. 27 (9 a.m.-noon ET)

The biggest spectacle of the holiday season returns to entertain millions as the 88th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade returns to NBC. Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie of "Today" will anchor the broadcast. More than 8,000 participants, some donning clown costumes, handling balloon giants or striking up the band, will set down the streets of Manhattan. Celebrities participating include Lucy Hale, Nick Jonas, Idina Menzel and Meghan Trainor. The parade will include high-stepping numbers from this season's Tony Award-winning best musical "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," Sting's "The Last Ship," "On the Town" and "Side Show," as well as a sneak peek at NBC's "Peter Pan Live!"

•"The National Dog Show Presented by Purina" on Thursday, Nov. 27 (noon-2 p.m. ET)

The 13th annual "National Dog Show Presented by Purina" is hosted by award-winning actor, author and Broadway star John O'Hurley ("Seinfeld," "Dancing with the Stars") and expert analyst David Frei, an AKC-licensed judge and host of USA Network's "The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show." Mary Carillo will report from the benching area and inside the show ring. Celebrating America's love of man's best friend, the telecast showcases some 1,500 purebred canines competing for the title of Best in Show.

•"Christmas in Rockefeller Center" on Wednesday, Dec. 3 (8-9 p.m. ET)

The arrival of the holidays wouldn't be complete without a dazzling display of musical talent and the lighting of the world's most famous Christmas tree, hosted by "Today" show anchors Lauer, Guthrie, Roker and Natalie Morales. The star-studded tree lighting extravaganza will feature musical guests including Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Cyndi Lauper and Seth MacFarlane. It will feature Sara Bareilles, Idina Menzel, Pentatonix, LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood performing current hits and holiday classics.

•"SNL Christmas" on Wednesday, Dec. 3 (9-11 p.m. ET)

The funniest Christmas-themed clips from 40 years of the late-night series "Saturday Night Live."

•"Peter Pan Live!" on Thursday, Dec. 4 (8-11 p.m. ET)

The classic Broadway musical about a boy who refuses to grow up, "Peter Pan Live!" will receive a show-stopping treatment with Williams as Peter and Walken as Captain Hook.

•"How Murray Saved Christmas" on Friday, Dec. 5 (8-9 p.m. ET)

From four-time Emmy-winning writer and executive producer Reiss, "How Murray Saved Christmas" is based on his best-selling children's book of the same name and is cleverly written entirely in rhymed verse. Featuring original songs by Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated composer Walter Murphy, the story centers on cranky deli owner Murray Weiner (Jerry Stiller), who is forced to fill in for Santa (Kevin Michael Richardson) one Christmas and, with the help of Edison Elf (Sean Hayes), does a weirdly wonderful job. The special also stars the voice talents of Dennis Haysbert, Jason Alexander and John Ratzenberger.

•"It's a Wonderful Life" on Saturday, Dec. 6 (8-11 p.m. ET), and Wednesday, Dec. 24 (8-11 p.m. ET)

The NBC annual tradition continues as the iconic 1946 film once again returns to primetime. Directed by Frank Capra, "It's a Wonderful Life" stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, who contemplates suicide before a guardian angel intervenes and allows him to see all that is right in his world.

•"Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas" on Tuesday, Dec. 16 (8-9 p.m. ET)

Starring four-time Emmy Award winner Parsons as Buddy, this original, stop-motion, hour-long animated special is based on the popular film "Elf" and the hit Broadway show "Elf: The Musical." Santa narrates the story of Buddy's travels to New York City to meet the father he never knew he had. Along the way, his unrelenting cheer transforms the lives of everyone he meets and opens his father's eyes to the magic of Christmas. With nine new songs, the special features a voice cast including Mark Hamill, Ed Asner, Fred Armisen, Jay Leno, Lauer, Gilbert Gottfried, Kate Micucci, Rachael MacFarlane, Max Charles and Steve Higgins.

•"Michael Bublé's Christmas in New York" on Wednesday, Dec. 17 (8-9 p.m. ET)

Grammy Award-winning singer Bublé celebrates the holiday season with his fourth annual special. Special guests join Bublé at the storied Radio City Music Hall in New York City for an hour-long celebration of his favorite holiday.

•"The Sing-Off" on Wednesday, Dec. 17 (9-11 p.m. ET)

 A two-hour holiday special of the popular musical competition series "The Sing-Off" showcases six new groups who compete for a first-place prize of $50,000. Returning judges Jewel and Shawn Stockman will be joined by Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump, while Nick Lachey once again hosts.

•"One Direction: The TV Special" on Tuesday, Dec. 23 (8-9 p.m. ET)

From Universal Orlando, this musical special offers TV viewers a rare inside look at the wildly popular band, and its members: Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson.

•"WWE Tribute to the Troops" on Saturday, Dec. 27 (8-9 p.m. ET)

As a way to honor the men and women who serve this country, WWE brings together the best of sports entertainment and pop culture with superstars and divas celebrity appearances, as well as performances from music's most popular acts. "Tribute to the Troops" has become a holiday tradition and is considered one of TV's most patriotic and heartwarming shows of the year.

•"New Year's Eve with Carson Daly" on Wednesday, Dec. 31 (10-11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET)

"The Voice" host will celebrate the arrival of 2015 from Times Square with an array of musical guests.

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