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Rising concerns over variants from delta to lambda may dominate the news, but beyond the headlines, signs of optimism abound.
New York plants a flag for recovery efforts with “Homecoming Week,” scheduled for Aug. 14-22 and comprised of live concerts, outdoor screenings, public art displays and cultural activities. An exclamation point comes Aug. 21 at Central Park’s Great Lawn with “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert” produced by the city in partnership with Clive Davis and Live Nation.
Bruce Springsteen, Barry Manilow, LL Cool J, Jennifer Hudson, Paul Simon, The Killers, Kane Brown and Cynthia Erivo are booked to hit the stage, among many others. “New York was my home for a good three years,” Tony-winning Broadway vet Erivo tells THR. “It’s a place that really took care of me, so I feel it’s necessary to give back.” Erivo says Clive Davis asked her to sing “Home” from The Wiz, a request she instantly approved. “It’s an important song with a message about knowing where your home is, being proud of it and wanting to be there. That is the most awesome song to reopen with.”
For United States Armed Forces members, home is military bases, where celebrities and musicians touched down last month for the first revived tours since before the pandemic. Led by Air Force General John E. Hyten, the tour kicked off at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay and wrapped at D.C.’s Walter Reed National Medical Center, hosting luminaries Kyle Chandler, singer Lauren Daigle, country duo LoCash, Miss America Camille Schreier and comedian Taylor Williamson, among others, along the way.
USO ambassador Wilmer Valderrama tells THR, “It has been one of the greatest joys of my career to join the USO in showing up for and supporting our troops, so joining them and General Hyten in San Diego for part of the first in-person tour in over a year was particularly special for me. After more than 40 performances with the USO, it is so fulfilling to continue to bring entertainment and to connect with our service members and military families. Whether I’m hanging out with a military child, having lunch with Marines or trying to pull a Humvee alongside the other tour talent, these experiences are my way to give more than thanks to our nation’s heroes and their families for their service and sacrifice.”
Added General Hyten: “People hadn’t experienced live music, they hadn’t experienced live entertainment, that joy that comes from being together [in a long time]. It was exciting to see it at every place we went. That’s why we did [the USO tour] inside the United States. It is so special to have that interaction once again.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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