The Big Three broadcast networks are mulling a roadblock special to air in primetime Jan. 20 celebrating the inauguration of Joe Biden as President of the United States and Kamala Harris as Vice President.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation tell Variety that the special would be 90 minutes to two hours in length and would be produced by Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner, the same team that handled the Democratic National Convention. Weiss is set to direct. The special would feature remote performances as well as other possible highlights such as an outdoor, ball-style “first dance” with Biden and soon-to-be-First Lady Jill Biden, and a fireworks display.
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Names of possible talent to appear are not yet known, but one network source said they assumed that Weiss and Kirshner would have no problem delivering A-listers for the event, citing what is largely viewed as their successful work on the convention.
ABC, CBS and NBC are all said to be likely to carry the special, which may also run on some cable networks. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox is not believed to be in discussions to join the roadblock telecast.
Representatives for the Big Four broadcast networks did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A representative for the Biden-Harris inaugural committee declined to comment.
Kirshner and Stephanie Cutter are set to serve as executive producers of the inauguration ceremony, which will be held earlier in the day in Washington, D.C., with Rod O’Connor is joining them as senior advisor. There are plans for multiple live streams of inaugural events throughout the day in addition to the primetime special.
The inaugural committee was said to have held discussions prior to the winter holidays with multiple networks with the goal of finding an exclusive television partner for a primetime special. Strategy was said to have shifted after the New Year, with the Biden-Harris team deciding a roadblock telecast open to all networks would be more appropriate.
Fox is said to be reluctant to join in in part because doing so would require it to preempt “The Masked Dancer,” its new, highly rated spinoff of the reality competition show “The Masked Singer.”
The inauguration comes two weeks after supporters of President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol Building in an effort to invalidate the electoral college vote. Lawmakers were evacuated as the rioters breached barricades. Thousands of protesters, waving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and shouting “stop the steal,” flooded Capitol Hill and paraded through National Statuary Hall, creating a tense standoff with law enforcement that dissolved into violence. Tear gas was deployed in the Rotunda and shots were fired. Video from the scene showed the demonstrators smashing windows and climbing into the building. Police inside the House chamber were seen with their guns drawn as people forced their way inside.
Marc Malkin contributed to this report.
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