When singer/TV personality Nick Lachey was asked to host NBC’s 2011 edition of “Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular” he says he jumped at the chance because he loves fireworks and New York City, where the event is held every year. The TV special (which airs live in the Eastern and Central time zones) will be televised July 4, 2011, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time/Pacific Time. Brad Paisley and Beyoncé are set to perform on the show.
Lachey chatted with journalists during a telephone conference call to talk about his first time hosting “Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular” and his favorite childhood memories of the Independence Day holiday. He also commented on the return of NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” the a capella singing contest that hosts and which expands into a full season of episodes, as of the fall of 2011. And although Lachey and his fiancée, Vanessa Minnillo, are planning to televise their wedding sometime in 2011 on TLC (the wedding date is being kept a secret from the public), he joked during the interview that the couple might elope during the Fourth of July telecast.
How did you get involved with “Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular”?
Well, I’ve actually had the pleasure of performing on the show in years past. And then this year as host of “The Sing-Off” and [being] part of the NBC family, they’ve reached out to me to see if I would be interested in being the host to this, which I obviously jumped at the chance to. It’s one of the marquee events of the year and one I have been very familiar in years past, and very, very excited and honored to be a part of it this year.
When you’re not doing a show like this, how do you generally spend your Fourth of July?
I don’t have any set tradition like that necessarily, but some years I’ve been in New York actually for the fireworks and some years been here in L.A. and had the pleasure of watching them on TV because it usually fogs in here and you can’t see a thing. And other years I’ve been in Cincinnati, so it kind of depends on the year, but I always try to be with friends and family, obviously.
Do you enjoy doing hosting gigs?
I do, I do. It’s certainly come to this in the last few years I’ve been able to do more of and I really have enjoyed it. It gives you an opportunity to kind of be yourself and bring a little of your own personality into the mix.
And with “The Sing-Off,” I get a chance to be around incredibly talented groups. And certainly … there’s no place in the world you’d rather be on the Fourth of July than New York City right there for the fireworks, so I’m a lucky man. If you’re seeing it live in New York you could always tune in to 1010 WINS and have that soundtrack playing over your own loud speakers. And obviously, for those tuning in on NBC, they’ll be able to hear the soundtrack that’s been created specifically for this fireworks display simulcast with the fireworks.
Do you have any particular fireworks that you find to be your favorite? Or maybe, if you were a firework, what would you be?
Lachey: What firework would I be? I like the screamers, the ones that make that real high [sound when they] fall from the sky. That’s probably my favorite firework, that’d be it. That’s always the fun thing to me is that every year they seem to come up with new and different shapes and stuff. Every year feels like it’s a whole new experience.
Can you talk about the challenges of doing a live show like this, with so much going on, with the musical performances and fireworks?
I guess from my perspective, it is that unforeseen which makes it exciting. I actually prefer doing live events to pre-taped because I think there’s just a genuine excitement and adrenaline rush that comes from knowing that there really is no turning back. And you just have to roll with the punches, no matter what they are or how they come and kind of be quick on your feet.
But it’s always exciting, and I’m sure that the fireworks spectacular will be exactly that. You plan as much as you can and certainly you prepare as much as you can, and then once you go live you’re just rolling with the punches, so it’s fun.
When you were a kid and a teenager, what were your Fourth of Julys like then? What did you like to do?
I think that the fireworks, no matter where you are, are kind of a staple of Fourth of July. I have a lot of memories of cookouts and kind of playing football or badminton or whatever it is in the yard with your family and having a big grill-out. And then when it gets dark it’s time to track down the fireworks because that’s really the way to kind of wrap up the Fourth of July holiday. So no matter what my memory was, no matter where it was, it certainly always culminated with a great fireworks show.
And would you go to the big ones in Cincinnati or the smaller ones at home or what fireworks would you usually watch?
My family was never big into the hold-your-own fireworks show in the backyard kind of thing, so we always go to the local park or wherever the fireworks are being held that year. But I have memories of living in Astoria and getting on the train and going down and watching the Macy’s fireworks there in New York a good 15 years ago. So for the premier fireworks event of the year, I’m happy to be a part of it.
You’re going to be hosting “The Sing-Off” again this year. Is there like a comeback of the voice in general and the love of singing?
I think the people have an appreciation for genuine talent and singing acapella and that really there’s no where to hide with that and so I think you have to have an appreciation for the talent it takes to pull that off well. And as a segue I have to say I am just so impressed with the musical guests we have on this show. Beyoncé and Brad Paisley are two of the premier acts in music right now so great to have them a part of this. But yes, I think it’s just great that that people are celebrating singing and celebrating the voice. And it’s great to be a part of that on some level.
How would your describe hosting “The Sing-Off”?
It’s great. I mean especially as a musician and singer myself, it’s such a joy to be around young and talented and enthusiastic singers like we have on “The Sing-Off.” And it really is a pleasure to go to work every day and kind of be immersed in that.
It’s actually very contagious; it kind of refreshes me as far as music goes. It makes me even more excited to sing myself just being around that. It’s very contagious. So I couldn’t imagine being a part of a better show or a more rewarding show than “The Sing-Off.” It’s been a blast.
Besides your own charity, which charity holds a special spot for you?
I’d have to say that I try to focus my charitable work specifically on kids, on children: the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organizations, one I’ve been affiliated with for about eight years. And I have a little brother, and that’s probably the most rewarding relationship that I’ve seen come out of doing charitable work. It’s been a joy to be a part of his life and be a part of that program. So I’d probably say Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
You said you sang on the show before on “Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular”? What year was it and what challenges did you have singing on the show, and what do the other entertainers this year face?
I’d have to say it was probably 2006 when I performed on the East River side. But yes, I think the challenge there is it’s tough to keep your butterflies in check it’s such a such a dramatic scene and the crowd is very amped up and it’s just very exciting. So performers like you say we need to stay within ourselves. It’s easy to get overly amped and a little bit out of control.
But it’s just such a great environment such a great atmosphere it’s tough not to have a great time. And I certainly enjoyed my experience performing on the show. Beyoncé and Brad are both pros. I’m looking very much forward to hearing them. It’ll be great.
When you sang on “Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular,” were you on a park on land or were you on a boat?
Yes, we were on the shore of the East River. I can’t remember specifically where we were but yes, it was kind of an open kind of a square area and you have a lot of a lot of bands, a lot of crowd around.
Is “The Sing-Off” started off being televised only in December. What are your thoughts about being part of the fall lineup, as of 2011?
We’re honored and flattered. I think it speaks to the success of the show and to the numbers that we pulled in last year for NBC. So we’re we’re very honored that we got the full fall pickup. Obviously, there comes challenges with that and having to expand the show and so we’re looking at that creatively and how to best do that, but we’re excited. It started out as kind of the little engine that could and here we are with a full fall pickup. So everyone associated with the show is very, very excited and looking forward to it.
Besides “Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular,” do you and your fiancée, Vanessa Minnillo, have any other big plans for the holiday?
No, I mean it doesn’t get any bigger than what I’m doing. So that’s the big thing: being in New York and being a part of this event with Macy’s and NBC. It’s a real honor for me. And as I said, there’s no where else I would rather be on the Fourth of July. So I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a big party.
Any special things in New York you’re looking forward to beside just the event?
I always enjoy the chance to come to New York. It’s my favorite city in the world, and to be in that city and just be a part of that atmosphere it’s always fun. So especially on the Fourth with so much excitement in the air it’s going to be a great night.
How are your wedding plans going?
We’re in the active planning mode. That’s all I can say. Maybe we’ll get married there on the Hudson. Who knows?
For more info: “Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular” website
Interview with Nick Lachey for “The Sing-Off,” December 2009
Interview with Nick Lachey for “The Sing-Off,” November 2010
Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks news and reviews