NBC Uni to go online for tree lighting

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You won't need to be in New York this year to attend NBC Universal's annual Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center.

NBC Uni is staging a virtual version of the event Wednesday night to kick off the conglomerate putting down stakes in Second Life, the fast-growing 3-D online world. The holiday party can be accessed at secondlife.com or NBC.com, where replicas of the towering tree, skating rink and even NBC Uni's 30 Rock headquarters await online visitors.

The Second Life party is an introductory stunt to tout the peacock's continued presence on the site. Sources said the new digital digs will allow NBC to let fans mingle with avatars, or virtual representations, of stars from the network's shows -- making it the closest you can get to network talent without receiving a restraining order.

NBC Uni is among the first wave of media companies touching down in Second Life, which is owned by San Francisco-based Linden Labs. Endemol is staging an online edition of its reality series "Big Brother" there, and other content players ranging from Sony BMG to Reuters have made Second Life land grabs of their own.
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