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SBD Global/July 23, 2012/Olympics

What To Expect At Director Danny Boyle's Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

Participants file into Olympic Stadium in London prior to a recent rehearsal.
Director Danny Boyle and his team "have gone to extraordinary lengths" to keep the content of Friday's opening ceremony secret, according to Sawer & Duffin of the London TELEGRAPH. Volunteer performers each signed pledges that they "would not reveal details to outsiders, and professional technicians and dancers are under contract not to disclose their roles." Despite this, the Telegraph has managed to piece together many of the elements of the three-hour spectacular, providing a fascinating preview of what Boyle has pledged will "make a few jaws drop." At the beginning of the show, which will start at 9pm GMT, actor Daniel Craig, the James Bond star [or a stunt man in his place] will abseil into the stadium out of a helicopter, and a 27-tonne bell will be rung to signal the start of the ceremony. A stage backdrop of hills, streams, meadows and thatched cottage will evoke Britain's rural past. It is understood a third "act" of the ceremony will look at the post-war transformation of Britain, with models of Big Ben and other London landmarks, and a parade of dancing nurses and ancillary staff pushing hospital beds "to represent the National Health Service and the Welfare State." Dancers dressed in Sgt. Pepper-style uniforms will stage a tribute to the Beatles. Paul McCartney will end the opening ceremony. The show will be followed by the traditional elements of the Games' opening ceremony: receiving the head of state, march of the athletes, speeches, Olympic anthem and flag, oaths, and the lighting of the cauldron (TELEGRAPH, 7/22).

THE GUEST LIST: The guest list for the opening ceremony includes some of the world's biggest celebrities as well as more than 120 heads of state. U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, with her daughters Sasha and Malia, will lead the U.S. delegation. Also taking their seats will be German chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev and Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda. The cream of European royalty will also attend including Prince Albert of Monaco and his wife Princess Charlene of Monaco as well as Queen Sofia of Spain. Every living former British PM has been invited, with John Major and Tony Blair expected to attend. But outranking them all will be The Queen who will officially open the Games. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, along with Prince Harry, are also expected. Among big showbiz names will be Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, David Beckham, Helen Mirren and Judy Dench (TELEGRAPH, 7/22).

BECKHAM'S ROLE: In London, Katie Hind reported that Beckham was given "a major Olympics role," as organizers have "specially created" a part for Beckham in Friday's opening ceremony. The former England captain -- one of the prime campaigners for the London 2012 Games --  is "said to be in talks about his exact involvement." An Olympics source said, “David will have a starring role in the games and he is excited at the prospect. Meetings will be held this week. It’s going to be a big, big surprise” (THE PEOPLE, 7/22).

TORCH LIGHTING: In London, Jacquelin Magnay reported that one of the men deciding who will light the Olympic cauldron at Friday night’s opening ceremony "has given a strong hint yet" that it will not be retired British Olympic rower Steve Redgrave or retired British Olympic decathlete Daley Thompson. Instead, British Olympic Association CEO Andy Hunt said, “It will be a wow moment,” indicating it "may be the method of lighting the flame, rather than the person given the honour, that will be the defining moment of the night" (TELEGRAPH, 7/22). In London, Roger Blitz writes, U.K. Sport's Performance Dir Peter Keen said Bradley Wiggins' victory in the Tour de France has "resolved the question of who should light the Olympic flame." Keen: “He’s already lit it. I can’t think of a better thing to happen before Team GB takes the field of play. It is an audacious, outrageous level of achievement” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/22).
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