Posted by PBS Publicity on

New Holiday Specials and Returning Favorites Make for a Jolly Holiday Season on PBS

New specials featuring Garrison Keillor, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the New York Philharmonic highlight PBS' primetime schedule this holiday season, while the PBS KIDS' schedule features a great selection of Christmas and New Year's-themed programming. PBS is a home for the holidays for the whole family this season.

In Los Angeles, holiday traditions span the globe. The music and dance special L.A. HOLIDAY CELEBRATION, airing Thursday, December 14, 2006, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS, spotlights the top performances from the annual Holiday Celebration at the Music Center. Viewers discover the real L.A. as performers of African, Asian, European, Latino and Middle Eastern backgrounds join to express the joy of the season. ANTIQUES ROADSHOW's Mark Walberg hosts the surprising and original celebration, a whole new take on holiday entertainment.

Continuing a tradition, PBS presents a holiday concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. CHRISTMAS WITH THE MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR FEATURING RENEE FLEMING AND CLAIRE BLOOM airs Wednesday, December 20, 2006, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET on PBS, with an encore presentation on Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, 2006, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET. The renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square are joined by opera superstar and two-time Grammy Award-winner Renee Fleming, acclaimed British actress Claire Bloom, dancers from the University of Utah Department of Ballet and the Bells on Temple Square for the annual holiday concert.

Country music artist and Belmont University graduate Josh Turner hosts CHRISTMAS AT BELMONT, encoring Thursday, December 21, 2006, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS, a festive musical collage that will include a holiday repertoire ranging from traditional carols to classical masterworks to lighthearted secular songs. The "Christmas at Belmont" concert is a holiday tradition at Belmont, where the School of Music features outstanding choral and instrumental ensembles that have received high praise nationally and internationally.

Beloved American mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and Europe's pre-eminent baritone Bryn Terfel join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square as PBS presents an encore broadcast of CHRISTMAS WITH THE MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR FEATURING FREDERICA VON STADE AND BRYN TERFEL, airing Friday, December 22, 2006, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET on PBS. The concert includes sacred and secular holiday favorites, as well as seasonal songs from around the world. Featured selections performed by the choir, orchestra and soloists include "Joy to the World," "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and other traditional carols. The international flavor of the program includes English, Welsh, Nigerian, Austrian and French carols.

As snow falls and Christmas lights glow in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a holiday season of a different sort settles in just beyond the town, in the great winter world of Yellowstone. NATURE "Christmas in Yellowstone," airing on Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, 2006, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET on PBS, journeys in the footsteps of the men who first explored the park, and travels with their modern-day counterpart on his own journey of discovery. From the unique crystals of individual snowflakes to the grand sweep of Yellowstone's Hayden Valley, it's a Christmas like no other.

After the Christmas Eve broadcast of CHRISTMAS WITH THE MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR FEATURING RENEE FLEMING AND CLAIRE BLOOM, PBS travels to Scandinavia for A ST. OLAF CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY. The program features the choir of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, a girls' choir from Norway and Norwegian mezzo Randi Stene in a program taped at Trondheim's Nidaros Cathedral, one of the oldest Gothic churches in the world. The encore broadcast of A ST. OLAF CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY airs on Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, 2006, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS.

The following week, PBS rings in the New Year in style, as Broadway and concert star Audra McDonald joins the New York Philharmonic for a program of cherished pop standards by Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Harold Arlen and others in LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER "New Year's Eve with Audra McDonald and the New York Philharmonic," airing on Sunday, December 31, 2006, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET.

Following LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER, GREAT PERFORMANCES "Garrison Keillor's New Year's Eve Special" airs Sunday, December 31, 2006, 10:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. ET on PBS. Garrison Keillor of "A Prairie Home Companion" hosts a live New Year's Eve broadcast from Nashville's legendary Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. The festive GREAT PERFORMANCES telecast will be all the merrier due to the Opry's role in providing Keillor with his original inspiration for an eclectic radio show that went on to become the public radio favorite that it is today. Together with some surprise special guests, Keillor and "sound effects guy" Fred Newman, Rich Dworsky and Guy's All-Star Shoe Band and other series regulars will bid "Auld Lang Syne" to 2006 for a New Year's countdown like no other.

On New Year's Day, GREAT PERFORMANCES continues a time-honored holiday tradition with "From Vienna: The New Years Celebration 2007," returning to the stately splendor of Vienna's Musikverein for its 23rd annual New Year's Day celebration with the Vienna Philharmonic and host Walter Cronkite. Zubin Mehta will lead the renowned orchestra in a selection of buoyant Strauss Family waltzes, including the "Dynamiden" by Joseph Strauss and the timeless favorite, the "Blue Danube," by his brother, Johann. Also featured are festive ballets danced by the Vienna State Opera Ballet, with choreography by Christian Tichy and costumes by Christof Cremer. The festivities air Monday, January 1, 2007, 2:30-4:00 p.m. and 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET on PBS.

Rounding out PBS' holiday schedule is a slate of programs airing throughout December. A POPS HOLIDAY PARTY (check local listings) is a special with the Boston Pops Orchestra featuring festive holiday music culled from more than 35 years of programming, with clips from the best of the best from Arthur Fiedler and John Williams, along with new selections from current Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart. From holiday standards to viewers' favorite sing-a-longs, it's a holiday party for the whole family.

MR. CHRISTMAS (check local listings) is a film about a young father, Joel, who can't afford to buy his five-year-old daughter the bicycle she's expecting from Santa Claus, creating a crisis of confidence for Joel in his role as a father, husband and family breadwinner. In this uplifting holiday movie, a family learns that a happy Christmas doesn't depend on material gifts.

Narrated by Dick Cavett, ONCE UPON A SLEIGH RIDE (check local listings) chronicles the life and work of orchestral composer Leroy Anderson (1908-1975) through interviews with colleagues, family members and others who knew him, as well as archival and contemporary performances of his works, including "Sleigh Ride," "The Syncopated Clock," "Blue Tango" and "The Typewriter."

SING WE NOW OF CHRISTMAS: A FESTIVAL OF CAROLS (check local listings) features the renowned adult choir of the Moline, Illinois, First Presbyterian Church performing by candlelight in a restored 100-year old Victorian Sanctuary, an architectural and acoustical masterpiece. Accompanied by a symphony orchestra, the choir performs popular Christmas music, both secular and sacred, including holiday favorites "Joy to the World," "Away in a Manger," "The First Noel" and "Silent Night." Special guests include the nationally recognized piano duo Howard Helvey and Richard Steinbach.

PBS goes Down Under in December to celebrate with AMERICA IN CONCERT: LIVE AT THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE (check local listings), featuring the popular 1970s hit-makers ("A Horse With No Name," "Sister Golden Hair") Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley "America" and their unique blend of pop, rock and folk.

Also in December is CELTIC WOMAN : A NEW JOURNEY (check local listings), recorded at historic Slane Castle and featuring the talented original Celtic Woman members: singers Chloe, Lisa, Meav and Orla, and violinist Mairead, joined by New Zealand-born singer Hayley Westenra, whose forebears hailed from County Monaghan.

THE SNOW QUEEN, an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's magical fairy tale, blends live-action performances and songs with animated backgrounds. The story charts Gerda's journey in her quest for the boy Kay, culminating in their joyous reunion in the Snow Queen's palace. The production stars Juliet Stevenson (Mona Lisa Smile, Emma) and Kenneth Welsh (The Aviator, "Twin Peaks") and features the voice of Patrick Stewart ("Star Trek: The Next Generation"). Dialogue is interwoven with songs and music composed by Paul K. Joyce and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (check local listings).

Other specials (all check local listings) include: DIONNE WARWICK : LIVE IN CONCERT: Warwick performs her greatest hits, recorded during two concerts in September 2005. DR. PERRICONE'S 7 SECRETS TO BEAUTY, HEALTH AND LONGEVITY: Dr. Perricone outlines strategies to delay the onset of aging and its physical and mental effects. IL DIVO: LIVE AT THE GREEK: The popular cross-continental operatically trained quartet Il Divo presents a program of well-known hits " both old and new"  transformed with a refined classical twist of new arrangements. Taped in June 2006 at the stunning Greek Theater in Los Angeles before a capacity crowd of 5,000, these charming and talented young men perform in English, French, Spanish and Italian. JOHNNY MATHIS : WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL!: Perennially popular singer Johnny Mathis, the voice of romance for more than two generations, celebrated his 50th year as a recording artist with a gala concert performance on October 27, 2006, at the Tropicana Resort Showroom in Atlantic City. This program includes Mathis' most memorable hits as well as vintage television clips from the 1950s through the 90s with such "guest stars" as Andy Williams, Johnny Carson, Deniece Williams and Nancy Reagan. MY MUSIC: COUNTRY POP LEGENDS: Country pop legends unite to perform their biggest and most-loved hit recordings from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in an all-new entry in the MY MUSIC series of specials. Country music legend Roy Clark hosts this emotional trip down three decades of memory lane. New performances from Glenn Campbell, Crystal Gayle, Hank Locklin, Bill Anderson, BJ Thomas, the Bellamy Brothers, the Browns and more are intermixed with full-length vintage archival gems from the vaults. THE PET DOCTOR WITH MARTY BECKER: Renowned veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker provides information and demonstrates ways to build a greater bond with pets and keep them healthy. PATRIZIO: THE NEW VOICE OF ROMANCE: Italian singing sensation Patrizio Buanne performs with the Dutch Metropole Orchestra, conducted by Dick Bakker. RETURN TO BALANCE: A CLIMBER'S JOURNEY: Climbing legend Ron Kauk shares insights and stories about his climbing experience in Yosemite, striving to awaken in viewers the responsibility to preserve the natural world. RICK STEVES' EUROPEAN CHRISTMAS: Christmas in Europe is a rich and fascinating mix of Christian and pre-Christian traditions. Host Rick Steves explores holiday celebrations across Europe. TIM JANIS: THE AMERICAN CHRISTMAS CAROL: This program traces world-famous American Christmas carols back to their beginnings and presents a performance of new carols written by award-winning composer Tim Janis (check local listings). TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA: Narrated by the late Ossie Davis, this is a fantasy trip through the magic of Christmas. A runaway little girl decides to return to her family after she enters a rundown theater for shelter and encounters an old caretaker (Davis), who guides her on her journey. The caretaker brings the theater to life through various musical performances by singers Jewel, Michael Crawford and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. YOUR BODY'S FRAMEWORK WITH NICHOLAS DINUBILE, M.D.: Dr. Nicholas A. DiNubile, using his research and clinical experience as one of the nation's leading sports medicine specialists, offers viewers a plan for fitness and freedom from pain.

In addition to these specials, several PBS KIDS' programs present winter and holiday theme weeks or episodes in December, including ARTHUR'S PERFECT CHRISTMAS, airing Christmas Day, Monday, December 25, 2006, 9:00-10:00 a.m. ET and 5:00-6:00 p.m. ET on PBS; CLIFFORD'S PUPPY DAYS, featuring the Hanukah-themed episode "The Big, Big Present" (Monday, December 18, 2006, check local listings); MAYA AND MIGUEL, featuring the Christmas-themed episode "Miguel's Wonderful Life" (Christmas Day, Monday, December 25, 2006, check local listings); CYBERCHASE, the New Year's episode "Starlight Night" (Friday, December 29, 2006, check local listings); and a winter-themed week on TELETUBBIES, "Teletubbies in the Snow" (Monday, December 25 through Friday, December 30, 2006, check local listings).

ABOUT PBS PBS is a media enterprise that serves 354 public noncommercial television stations and reaches almost 90 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is a leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of other educational services. PBS' premier kids TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (pbskids.org), continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.

- PBS -

CONTACT: Cara White, Tel.: 843/881-1480; Fax: 843/849-1173; carapub@aol.com

Carrie Johnson, PBS, Tel.: 703/739-5129; Fax: 703/739-5134; cjohnson@pbs.org