Friday, June 29, 2007

Elton this weekend at the "Concert for Diana"

Princess Diana rules over NBC's weekend schedule
Lauer broadcasts live from London; concert on Sunday

Matt Lauer isn't exactly in the inner circle at Buckingham Palace.

"I'm not a royal-watcher," Lauer said. "I'm probably the least royal-watcher of any of my friends."

But he might seem like one over the next few days.

This morning, he'll do his portion of "Today" from London. On Sunday, NBC reruns his interview with princes William and Harry, then has him hosting the hosting the American telecast of the "Concert for Diana."

The latter will be quick and condensed. The actual concert is likely to run more than six hours in London's Wembley Stadium, Lauer said; NBC plans to carry only an hour.

The concert is on what would have been the 46th birthday of Princess Diana, the late mother of William and Harry.

At first, it was described as a collection of her favorite performers. Elton John and Duran Duran top the bill.

Still, the princes also chose people from their generation. "They really wanted it to be a healthy mix," Lauer said.

At the time of Diana's death (almost a decade ago), Kanye West was 20, Nelly Furtado was 18, Natasha Bedingfield was 15, Lily Allen was 12 and Joss Stone was 10. All are expected to perform Sunday, plus Diddy, Tom Jones, Rod Stewart, Bryan Ferry, Pharrell and more.

The princes are only scheduled to introduce Furtado, Lauer said. He's betting that the introduction will be included in NBC's abridged version.

Critics have argued that when NBC paid $2.5 million for the concert rights, it was also buying the interview. Lauer disputes that. "What it got was the concert," he said. "Then there were a lot of discussions."

He dealt with Palace officials. "It was a little like an audition. ... I sent some tapes of high-profile interviews."

The result was a 36-minute interview, he said, and he used virtually all of it in the "Dateline" hour and on "Today." For all of the details, however, he said the princes were pleasant.

"I thought they'd be stiff- upper-lip, cautious, guarded. But they kidded each other and kidded me. ... I just liked the guys."

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