'Today' sets primetime special

Hourlong year-in-review show set to air Dec. 22

NEW YORK -- TV's top breakfast cast is heading to a one-time-only slot after dinner.

NBC's "Today" is prepping a primetime special for Dec. 22. The hourlong "2008: Today Looks Back, a Holiday Special" will begin at 8 p.m.

As the name implies, the program will review the year with the five top news stories, "moving moments" and personalities. It's the first time in 13 years that "Today" has gotten a spot in primetime.

"It was such an incredible year, with the economy and the election and the Olympics, just for starters," said executive producer Jim Bell. "There were a range of emotions and stories that resonated, in particular on the 'Today' show."

The idea came several months ago when Ben Silverman called and asked if "Today" would be interested in doing a primetime special. Bell said Tuesday that the crew was enthusiastic about being in primetme. Several producers have been working on the show for weeks; senior producer Don Nash is in charge of the special.

It will be hosted by Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Al Roker and Ann Curry, who will work in the evening this week -- in addition to their day jobs -- to put the show together. It won't be live. Also appearing are other "Today" staffers including Lester Holt, Amy Robach, Willard Scott, Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford.

One segment will be on "Today" bloopers, of which there are likely to be many.

"When you're doing four hours of TV (live) a day, you inevitably end up with a lot of material for outtakes and blooper reels," Bell said.

Who knows? The primetime show could become an annual event.

"I suppose but I don't know if we're going to have another year like we did in 2008," Bell said. "I really think it was the year that called for it, too. There was such incredible material. But you never know. We're always here to help."
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