July 3, 2008

Tiki Barber, Natalie Morales Host NBC’s Coverage of Macy’s Fireworks

Former NFL standout-turned-announcer Tiki Barber didn't have a lot of Fourth of July family traditions when he was growing up in Virginia. Neither did "Today" national correspondent Natalie Morales.

They have one now. Morales and Barber, "Today" correspondent and "Football Night in America" studio analyst, return this year as hosts of the "Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular" at 9 p.m. Friday on NBC.

The salute to the patriotic holiday is just one of several programs with a Fourth of July theme airing Friday.

Barber's Fourth of July traditions didn't start until he was drafted by the New York Giants.

"After I came into the NFL, we started taking trips down to the Outer Banks (North Carolina) and having a big barbecue with five other families and doing our own little fireworks show down there, which has always been fun," Barber says during a telephone interview.

"Now that I work on the Fourth up here, we do it the day before, and so they get kind of two. They get my personal one and my friends' personal ones down in North Carolina, and then they get the one that I'm hosting on NBC. It's kind of the best of both worlds."

Morales lived overseas while growing up because of her father's military service, so she didn't have a lot of Fourth of July fireworks.

"But I think every time that we did visit the U.S. around that time we were always tuned into the 'Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular,'" Morales says.

The NBC telecast includes performances by Natasha Bedingfield, Kenny Chesney, Katharine McPhee and Jordin Sparks. The telecast also includes the nation's biggest fireworks show. The musical soundtrack for the fireworks is "American Dance."

Robin Hall, Macy's Fireworks executive producer, says more than 35,000 fireworks shells will be used in the television display.

Other Fourth of July telecasts include:

"Independence Day," 3 a.m., Fox Movie Channel: The cable channel will broadcast the Will Smith film for 24 consecutive hours. The movie is presented uncut, commercial free and in its original widescreen format.

"The Revolution," 9 a.m.-7 p.m., History Channel: The 10-part series looks at the Revolutionary War.

"Washington, D.C., Fireworks," 2 p.m.-midnight, Travel Channel: Kirsten Gum will offer special reports at the top of each hour from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., including the fireworks display.

"Capital Fourth," 8 p.m., PBS: Jimmy Smits hosts a celebration broadcast that includes fireworks plus performances by Huey Lewis and the News, Jerry Lee Lewis, Taylor Hicks, Broadway's Brian Stokes Mitchell, classical singer Hayley Westenra and soprano Harolyn Blackwell.

"Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular," 10 p.m., CBS: Country music superstars Rascal Flatts will join conductor Keith Lockhart and The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra for the telecast from the Charles River Esplanade in Boston. Craig Ferguson of "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" hosts the special for the second consecutive year.


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