HBO is pulling out all the stops for Tuesday’s Veteran’s Day National Mall concert which could be its biggest ever live event.
Fencing, which is normally used for inaugurations and Fourth of July celebrations, has been erected around the mall and Washington D.C.’s transit system has unveiled special plans to handle expected high attendance.
A National Park Service spokesman told TheWrap that a permit for the three-hour “Concert for Valor” salute to America’s veterans anticipates up to 850,000 people attending. If that estimate proves accurate that would be as many people as some estimate see the July Fourth fireworks.
Co-sponsored by Starbucks and Chase and produced by Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks and Joel Gallen, HBO has made the concert easily viewable on TV or the Internet live at 7 p.m. EST. HBO is also letting cable systems temporarily open HBO to non-HBO subscribers during the concert. The concert will be streamed at concertforvalor.com and or on Twitter.com/HBO and its audio portion will be carried by IHeartRadio.
Hanks, who supported construction of the World War II Memorial in Washington, won’t be in Washington but he and Steven Spielberg will appear in pre-taped tributes to veterans shown during the broadcast.
Other celebrities to either perform or appear Tuesday include John Oliver, the Zac Brown Band, and Dave Grohl.
Nina Rosenstein, senior VP for HBO Entertainment told TheWrap the concert is an outgrowth of HBO’s longtime interests in veterans and a culmination of past discussions about the possibility of holding veterans related events that never quite turned into actual events.
“We have a big commitment to veterans’ affairs and we have been trying to do an event to celebrate veterans for several years,” she said.
She said the idea of the concert arose again this summer when Starbucks expressed interest in supporting an event. Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz, with co-author Rajiv Chandrasekaran, recently published the book “For Love of Country,” a book highlighting the post military careers of veterans serving their community in extraordinary ways.
Rosenstein said that because HBO already had looked into the possibility of holding a concert before, it knew both the procedures for setting up a National Mall event and the way it needed to be done.
“It had to be massive and epic,” she said.
The event will both salute veterans and feature them in the audience.
While the biggest live event HBO has telecast, HBO has televised a number of the Comic Relief fundraisers from 1986 to 2010 and in 1997 sponsored a Garth Brooks in Central Park event.
Rosenstein said there has been no consideration yet of whether the salute event might be held again in future years.
Goetzman with Hanks were executive producers of HBO’s “The Pacific,” “Band of Brothers” and “John Adams,” as well as HBO music specials “The 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert” and the recent “2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony,” both of which were directed by Gallen.
While the concert could draw a big audience, it would have a long way to go to draw a record audience.
The National Park Service spokesman said some estimates of President Obama’s first inauguration put the crowd total at 1.8 million people. At the time National Park Service officials said that crowd was the largest ever on the national mall.