Line-Up for HBO's Inaugural Kick-Off Includes Beyoncé, Bono, and Brooks

By Michael O'Connell January 14, 2009, 12:48 PM EST

Inauguration festivities may be under way as early as Friday for those in Washington, but the rest of America will have to wait for Sunday night to begin the ramp up for Tuesday’s ceremony. Sunday afternoon's Lincoln Memorial kick-off celebration, featuring performances by Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, and Shakira, will air that evening on HBO.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee authorized the event just two and a half weeks ago, and in that time, executive producer George Stevens Jr.—who also works on the Kennedy Center Honors—hasn’t had a very hard time booking talent. Within 45 minutes of the announcement, Springsteen, Bono, and Garth Brooks all committed to the concert, USA Today reported.

Other performers confirmed for the celebration include James Taylor, John Mellencamp, Josh Groban, Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder, and Usher. Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, and Queen Latifah signed on to give readings, and other celebrity guests are expected to be announced in the coming days.

Also approved by the committee was HBO as the only broadcaster permitted to air the event, which might sound surprising, considering the cable network reaches only about 40 million viewers, but the channel plans to open itself to non-subscribers for Sunday’s 7:00 p.m. broadcast. “HBO has opened up its signal on many programs,” a network spokesman told us. “It is done on occasion for what could be considered special programs.”

HBO previously opened up to non-subscribers for the annual U.S. iteration of British charity event Comic Relief and for socially relevant content like the recent Addiction documentary series. The network aired a similar inaugural concert for President Bill Clinton’s first term in January 1993, though it had no hand in planning either.

Update: As of Wednesday night, TV Week reports that HBO will now air the event live, starting at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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