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Organizers say the special "will showcase the American people's resilience, heroism, and unified commitment to coming together as a nation to heal and rebuild"

By Adam Carlson
January 15, 2021 06:30 AM
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Add the Foo Fighters and John Legend along with Eva Longoria and Bruce Springsteen and Kerry Washington to the list of celebrities at Joe Biden's inauguration.

All five will be appearing at the primetime TV special, hosted by Tom Hanks, that will air Wednesday night after Biden's swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol.

Longoria and Washington "will introduce segments throughout the night ranging from stories of young people making a difference in their communities to musical performances," organizers say, while the Foo Fighters, Legend and Springsteen will perform remotely.

Organizers say the special, which will air across most of the major broadcast and cable news networks, "will showcase the American people's resilience, heroism, and unified commitment to coming together as a nation to heal and rebuild."

The unprecedented inauguration of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be followed by a day of ceremonies and then the TV special, in what the inaugural team is calling a "capstone" to "showcase the American people's resilience, heroism, and unified commitment to coming together."

The special will include speeches by both Biden, 78, and Harris, 56, as well as celebrity performances.

Ant Clemons, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Justin Timberlake will all perform, organizers previously announced. Clemons and Timberlake will sing their "Better Days," which they wrote.

Timberlake said on the Today show on Wednesday that he was "incredibly excited" by the opportunity, calling it an "honor."

"We got the phone call to be asked for that and I was like, 'Uhh yes,' " he said jokingly.

Legend, Longoria, Springsteen and Washington meanwhile were also all involved in the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Wednesday's inauguration was already going to be unlike any other, held in the shadow of a pandemic that has killed more than 350,000 people in the U.S.

Biden's inaugural team previously said the TV special "will highlight the strength of our democracy, the perseverance of our people, and our ability to come together during trying times and emerge stronger than ever before."

"The program will celebrate American heroes who are helping their fellow Americans through this crisis, including frontline workers, health care workers, teachers, citizens giving back, and those who are breaking barriers," organizers said in a news release.

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
| Credit: Maya Harris/Twitter

The inaugural committee CEO, Tony Allen, said in a earlier statement that the inauguration "presents a unique opportunity to spotlight the resilience and spirit of an America United. We have witnessed countless heroes this past year step up to the frontlines and serve their fellow Americans, so we are telling their stories, spreading their collective light, and celebrating the best of our country and its people with this prime-time program."

Much about this year's inauguration will be different from previous ceremonies: The health risks from the novel coronavirus led organizers to limit attendees to a few thousand and to encourage the public not to travel to Washington, D.C. — while last week's violent riot at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob raised additional concerns.

In lieu of the traditional in-person festivities such as musical performances, inauguration week parties and inaugural balls, Biden has organized a virtual parade after his swearing-in on the Capitol steps and inaugural address.

"Our first priority is safety — so while many of us will be watching safely from our homes, we are creating real moments of connection that highlight a new inclusive American era of leadership that works for and represents all Americans," Allen said in his statement.

The Hanks-hosted TV special will air at night, after Biden and Harris participate in a military ceremony and Biden attends a wreath-laying with other former presidents.

Inauguration organizers are also encouraging a day of service on Monday, to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and are organizing a memorial for the victims of the coronavirus on Tuesday.

The inauguration special "Celebrating America" airs Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ET) on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and NBC as well as online via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others.