Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Elton to appear on NBC's Bennett special

Marshall, NBC duet to mark Bennett's 80th

Tuesday, June 27, 2006 1:27:11 AM ET

By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Tony Bennett will celebrate his 80th birthday in style -- with a star-studded music special on NBC to be directed and executive produced by "Chicago" helmer Rob Marshall.

"Tony Bennett: An American Classic" is based on Bennett's upcoming album featuring duets with some of the music business's biggest names. A number of them -- including Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Diana Krall, k.d. lang, Michael Buble, John Legend, Juanes, trumpeter Chris Botti and violinist Pinchas Zukerman -- will perform with Bennett on the show.
Also set to appear on the hourlong program are Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who was an Oscar winner for her role.

"It's a tribute and celebration to Tony," Bennett's son/manager, Danny Bennett, said of the special, whose genre he describes as a "documusical," a musical journey through his father's life.

Each musical performance will be shot as a short movie about a milestone in the entertainer's career, with sets re-creating such pivotal venues as the Greenwich Village club where Bennett was discovered by Bob Hope in 1949; Carnegie Hall, where he held one of his most successful concerts in 1962; and the Sahara Hotel and Casino, where he performed in the late '70s.

Zeta-Jones, De Niro and Crystal will be setting the stage for the performances with narrative insights into Bennett's life during the time period highlighted by the song.

At the end of the special, Bennett will take the stage alone to sing his signature number, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

"American Classic" has begun filming at the historic Los Angeles Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The special is set to air in the fall in conjunction with the September 26 release of Bennett's RPM Records/Columbia Records album "Tony Bennett: Duets/An American Classic," which also includes duets with Bono, Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, Sting, Dixie Chicks, Elvis Costello, Billy Joel and Tim McGraw. The first single from the album will be released on Bennett's 80th birthday, August 3.

Referred to as "the greatest singer ever" by Frank Sinatra, Bennett has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, recorded more than 100 songs and garnered 13 Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter