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Tom Hanks, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez bring star power to Inauguration Day festivities

Lady Gaga, who campaigned for Joe Biden in Pennsylvania, will sing the national anthem at his inauguration on Jan. 20.
Lady Gaga, who campaigned for Joe Biden in Pennsylvania, will sing the national anthem at his inauguration on Jan. 20.Drew Angerer/Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty

If one person has the power to bring Americans together, it might be … Tom Hanks?

The beloved actor will host a prime-time television special on Jan. 20, capping off inauguration day for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Titled “Celebrating America,” the 90-minute program is poised to feature musical guests Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Ant Clemons, and longtime Democratic supporters Bon Jovi.

The inaugural committee’s nighttime special comes after the day’s swearing-in, military and wreath-laying ceremonies, and will stream live on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, Amazon Prime Video, Microsoft Bing, NewsNOW from Fox, and AT&T DirectTV and U-verse.

Produced by Emmy winner Ricky Kirshner, the TV special is slated for 8:30-10 p.m. EST, hours after Biden and Harris are sworn in on the steps of the Capitol Building. There, earlier in the day, Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem. National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman is set to lead a poetry reading, and Jennifer Lopez is the ceremony’s musical guest.

The virtual inauguration will highlight the strength of democracy, applaud national unity in times of crisis, and celebrate American heroes who emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement from the inaugural committee.


“We have witnessed countless heroes this past year step up to the frontlines and serve their fellow Americans, so we are telling their stories, spreading their collective light, and celebrating the best of our country and its people with this prime-time program,” inaugural committee CEO Tony Allen said in a statement.

In March, Hanks and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, were among the first public figures reported to have contracted COVID-19, as the pandemic spread rapidly through the world. Since then, the couple have become champions for front-line workers and encouraged safe practices such as mask wearing and social distancing.

“There’s really only three things we can do in order to get to tomorrow: Wear a mask, social distance, wash our hands,” Hanks told People in June. “Those things are so simple, so easy, if anybody cannot find it in themselves to practice those three very basic things — I just think shame on you.”


Diti Kohli can be reached at diti.kohli@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ditikohli_.