Springsteen and U2 line up for Obama celebration

Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:22pm EST
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By Paul J. Gough

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Denzel Washington, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Stevie Wonder are among the stars who will participate in Sunday's inaugural opening celebration, which will air live on HBO.

"We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial" is the first of official events sponsored by the Presidential Inaugural Committee for Barack Obama's inauguration. HBO will carry the event exclusively from 7-9 p.m. EST; the premium channel will be available free to cable and satellite providers with an open signal.

Many of the details still are being finalized, but executive producer George Stephens Jr. said a key theme will be Obama's place in history among other presidents who have led the country in difficult times.

"It's not a celebration of victory; it's about the country coming together for the future we're going to face," Stephens said Monday. "There's a sense of history about it. Much of the music will be in the context of that history. The Lincoln Memorial is a kind of sacred site."

Producer-director Don Mischer agreed.

"More than anything, it's going to be a moving program," he said. "We're trying to pick performances and music that in one form or another are grounded in history."

The Lincoln Memorial has been the site of many iconic performances in American history, from Marian Anderson on Easter Sunday in 1939 to Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech a quarter-century later.

Mischer, Stephens and the organizers are on a hurried schedule, having only known for a few weeks that they'd be producing the show. And some performances are still being fleshed out.   Continued...

<p>Singer Bruce Springsteen (L) gathers on stage with then Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) during an election rally in Cleveland, Ohio November 2, 2008. REUTERS/Jason Reed</p>