Review: ‘American Murderer,’ starring Tom Pelphrey, Ryan Phillippe, Idina Menzel and Jacki Weaver

November 14, 2022

by Carla Hay

Tom Pelphrey in “American Murderer” (Photo courtesy of Saban Films and Lionsgate)

“American Murderer”

Directed by Matthew Gentile

Culture Representation: Taking place mostly in 2004 and 2005 (with several flashbacks to previous years, going back to the 1970s) in Utah, California and Arizona, the crime drama film “American Murderer” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans and Latinos) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: Longtime con man Jason Derek Brown goes on the run from the law after becoming the prime suspect in the shooting and killing of an armored car guard during a robbery.

Culture Audience: “American Murderer” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in movies about true crime, but this dull and generic thriller leaves out a lot of important information in understanding the real people involved.

Ryan Phillippe in “American Murderer” (Photo courtesy of Saban Films and Lionsgate)

A movie about one of the FBI’s most-wanted criminals should have been intriguing. Unfortunately, the crime drama “American Murderer” wastes the talents of the cast members to deliver a boring story that relies heavily on superficial flashbacks that don’t answer questions. The movie is poorly structured and repetitive in all the wrong ways.

Written and directed by Matthew Gentile, “American Murderer” is about Jason Derek Brown, a longtime con man who was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list for 17 years. Brown is the prime suspect in the murder of Robert Keith Palomares, a 24-year-old armored car guard who was shot and killed during a robbery in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 29, 2004. Investigators say that the killer stole about $56,000 in cash during this deadly robbery.

A bicycle that the gunman used as the initial getaway vehicle was found not far from the crime scene. Brown’s fingerprints were on the bicycle. The shooter used a .45-caliber semiautomatic Glock pistol, which is the same type of gun that Brown was known to have. Brown, who was 35 in 2004, has been on the run ever since this robbery and murder. The charges against him are first-degree murder, armed robbery and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

This information is widely known, so it’s not spoiler information to a lot of people who might see the movie. And the film’s title is enough to tell viewers that a murder is going to happen in the movie, so there shouldn’t be any surprise when it does. Brown has not entered a plea to these accusations. And so, technically, until the case is resolved in a court of law, he’s innocent until proven guilty.

But those legal details (and many other details) are completely ignored in “American Murderer,” which has scenes showing Brown committing the crimes of which he’s accused, thereby declaring him guilty before Brown has answered to these charges. (For the purposes of this review, the real Brown will be referred to as Brown, while the character of Jason Brown in the movie will be referred to as Jason.) Even if the filmmakers wanted to stay neutral about declaring Brown guilty or not guilty of the murder, there are too many other problems with “American Murderer” that make it an unworthy story about this case.

“American Murderer” is a tedious and muddled timeline of events that don’t do very much to explain a lot of things that needed to be explained. The murder isn’t shown until 66 minutes into this 101-minute movie. The movie has so many flashbacks, even the flashbacks have flashbacks. The opening scene of “American Murderer” takes place on November 6, 2004, and depicts Jason (played by Tom Pelphrey) going into a pawn shop to sell a luxury watch and a wedding ring.

Viewers will see that Jason is a highly manipulative con man who can act a certain way, tell lies, and create personas of himself to serve whatever purpose that he has, which is usually to swindle people out of money. In this pawn shop scene, Jason tells the pawn broker (played by Chris Harvey) that the watch belonged to his late father, and the ring belonged to his deceased mother. Jason begins to cry when he talks about his mother, whom he says has recently died of pancreatic cancer.

However, Jason is composed enough to haggle over the purchase price for the jewelry. The pawn broker initially offers $1,000 to buy both items. It’s an amount that Jason thinks is unacceptable, so he and the pawn broker do some back-and-forth bargaining until they settle on $2,000 for the sale. Almost as soon as they make this agreement, Jason sees on the shop’s security camera that some rough-looking men are about to enter the pawn shop.

Jason knows who these men are, and he looks apprehensive. He rushes through the sale, gets the money, and asks the pawn shop broker if he can exit through the back door. The pawn shop broker, who’s used to dealing with shady people, can easily figure out what’s going on, and he doesn’t want any trouble in his shop. He lets Jason leave through the back. As soon as Jason makes a getaway in his car, Jason yells triumphantly to himself, “Fucking idiots!”

The next scene takes place at the FBI office in Salt Lake City, Utah, where special agent Lance Leising (played by Ryan Phillippe) is leading the FBI’s investigation to find Jason. This is where the movie’s sloppy screenwriting starts to show. Viewers who don’t know anything about Jason will be confused about the circumstances that would lead the FBI to look for Jason. Based on the title of the movie and the opening scene, viewers will know that Jason is not going to be the subject of an intense manhunt just because he might have sold some stolen jewelry at a pawn shop.

Jason is going to be a suspect for murder, but the “who, what, where, when and why” questions about the murder aren’t addressed until 66 minutes into the movie, when the actual murder takes place. Until then, viewers are kept in the dark (unless they already know the real-life story) about what exactly Jason did that has the FBI putting so many resources into looking for him. A better movie would have told the story in chronological order, or would have at least established from the beginning why Jason committed a federal crime that fell under the FBI’s jurisdiction.

Up until the murder scene, “American Murderer” shows mostly these two types of scenes: (1) interviews conducted by Lance and (2) flashbacks of Jason’s life before the murder was committed. One of the first people whom Lance is shown interviewing in Utah is a real-estate agent named Melanie Baker (played by Idina Menzel), a single mother who owns a house across the street from the house where she lives. For a period of time before the murder happened, Jason was her tenant in the rental house. Jason told her that he and his brother had a successful business importing and exporting golf equipment from Asia.

During the interview, Lance mentions that some of Melanie’s neighbors think that Melanie and Jason had an intimate relationship. Melanie denies that she and Jason ever had sex or dated, but flashbacks show that Melanie is lying. While Jason was signing the rental contract, Jason was very flirtatious and asked her on a date, but she declined the offer because she said that she had to be home when her son leaves school for the day. Still, it’s obvious she’s attracted to him, Jason knows it, and they both act on that attraction later.

Melanie has a son named Zachary “Zach” Baker (played by Asher James), who’s about 11 or 12 years old. Flashbacks show that Jason quickly charmed himself into Melanie’s and Zach’s lives. Jason and Melanie began having sex with each other. Jason got Zach to like him by secretly playing video games with him that Melanie won’t allow Zach to play. Jason also began acting like Melanie’s boyfriend by helping take care of Zach, having meals and sleepovers at Melanie’s place, and buying gifts for Zach and Melanie.

Melanie has this to say about Jason in her interview with Lance: “Maybe he was a little ostentatious and rubbed people the wrong way, but when I needed Jason’s help, he really was there for me.” She adds, “Jason was really great with kids. With all the toys he had and money he threw around, he actually endeared himself to the neighborhood pretty quickly.”

A big problem with “American Murderer” is that it gives these snippets of information but not a full or meaningful picture. For example, it’s mentioned in the movie that Jason was a career con artist for years, but he was only arrested once before the 2004 armed robbery/murder happened. In a flashback scene taking place about eight years before the robbery/murder, Jason is shown stealing golf equipment from a store and being arrested for it the same day.

Even though his arrest for that theft is shown in the movie, “American Murderer” never shows or explains how or why he got away with so many other alleged crimes for so long. What happened to any investigations into his scams? What happened to the victims? Those questions are never answered in the movie.

“American Murderer” also doesn’t fill in many blanks that it creates about Jason’s family background. He was born in Los Angeles and raised in California’s Los Angeles/Orange County region. His parents divorced when he and his two siblings were underage children. There’s a late 1970s flashback scene showing Jason’s father David Brown Sr. (played by Kevin Corrigan) in a small motel room with Jason (played by Dayne Xavier Fox), Jason’s older brother David Brown Jr. (played by Adrian Perez) and Jason’s older sister Jamie Brown (played by Ryan Bingham). The kids are about 9 to 12 years old.

Jamie complains that she wants to go home. David Sr. tells the kids that they are with him because their mother didn’t fight hard enough for custody. Jamie says that he’s lying. David Sr. puts a large wad of cash in the motel room’s safe and gives David Jr. and Jason some money to go play arcade games. The boys are willing to do whatever their father wants, but Jamie is stubbornly mistrustful of David Sr.

This scene is an example of something that is put in the movie but ultimately doesn’t do anything but bring up questions that the movie (once again) never answers. How were these children really raised? What exactly was the custody arrangement after the divorce? This motel scene looks like David Sr. took the kids away from their mother without the mother’s consent, and he’s lying to the kids about it, but everything is so vague in this scene, it’s difficult to come to any conclusions.

Later in the movie, it’s mentioned that David Sr. disappeared in 1994, when Jason was 25 years old, and he still has not been found to this day. There’s nothing in the movie that explains how this disappearance affected Jason and the rest of the family. There’s not even a mention of what the family thinks happened to David Sr. to cause this disappearance.

“American Murderer” also shows that, in 2004, Jason’s mother really isn’t dead, like he claimed in the pawn shop scene. In 2004, Jason’s mother Jeanne Brown (played by Jacki Weaver) is alive and well and has had periods of estrangement from Jason because he’s a pathological liar who only contacts her when he wants money from her. She loves him but she’s become fed up with Jason and his con-artist ways.

One of the movie’s best scenes (in a movie that has very few good scenes) is when Jason and Jeanne have a confrontational argument when he shows up at her home unannounced, after not seeing or speaking to her for three years. Jason is there to ask Jeanne for $20,000 to invest in a business that they both know doesn’t really exist. Much credit should go to Weaver for her exemplary acting talent in this memorable scene, but she’s not in the movie long enough to save it from its shoddy storytelling.

After the 2004 robbery/murder, Jason’s older siblings Jamie (played by Shantel VanSanten) and David Jr. (played by Paul Schneider) come into contact with FBI agent Lance, who interviews them at different points in the movie. Jamie gives more information about Jason than David does. Jamie says their father David Sr. is probably why Jason turned into a criminal. But then, the movie cuts to that 1970s flashback scene of the family in the motel, which doesn’t show anything except that Jamie thinks her father is lying about their mother not caring enough about the kids to fight for custody for them.

“American Murderer” has a scene where Lance interviews a woman who knew Jason because she was his friend from high school. She briefly mentions that Jason used to be married and “a straight-laced Mormon missionary in France.” But don’t expect to see any scenes in the movie showing that part of Jason’s life. Instead, there are several repetitive flashbacks of Jason as a cocaine-snorting jerk who has a habit of partying at nightclubs, showing off whatever luxury car he got with money he scammed, and being a playboy. A better movie would have shown the massive contrasts between his Mormon missionary life and his criminal life that he would have later on.

“American Murderer” also has multiple scenes showing that Jason owed enough money where thugs were following him and sometimes beating him up. At one point, during one of these beatings, Jason is told that he needs to pay the $80,000 that he owes, or else something worse than a beating will happen to him. When an injured Jason tries to get a loan from a bank, his application is rejected. The loan officer (played by Sila Agavale), who notices Jason’s facial injuries, advises Jason to get out of town.

After he fails to get the money he needs, Jason (now living in the Phoenix area) starts planning to rob an armored truck after it picks up money from a movie theater. Jason wants to commit the robbery on a Monday, when he knows that the truck will be carrying cash from the weekend—the period of time when movie theaters do their biggest business of the week. One of the people who knew about Jason’s scheme was a drug buddy named Kyle Wallace (played by Moises Arias), who is interviewed by Lance.

In yet another flashback scene, Jason is shown snorting cocaine with Kyle at Kyle’s home when Jason tells Kyle about the robbery plan and asks Kyle to commit the robbery with him, but Kyle wants no part of it. Jason gets angry about this rejection, so he puts a gun to Kyle’s head in a threatening manner and pulls the trigger. Jason then tells Kyle that the gun is empty, and Jason laughs at Kyle, like it’s all one big joke. Kyle doesn’t think it’s funny at all, and he orders Jason out of his home, but Jason doesn’t want to leave.

Kyle is much smaller than Jason, but Kyle is very angry and gets in a physical scuffle with Jason, which catches Jason off guard. When Jason sees that Kyle is not easily intimidated by him, Jason switches gears and makes profuse apologies for the gun “prank,” but Kyle is unmoved. Kyle manages to cut Jason out of his life by ignoring Jason’s persistent attempts to recruit Kyle for help with the robbery.

In his portrayal of this notorious criminal, Pelphrey seems to be making an effort to depict Jason as a complex “Jekyll and Hyde” personality, but that effort can only go so far when the movie’s screenplay and direction are so shallow and limited. Phillippe’s Lance Leising character is based on the real FBI investigator of the same name, but the character is written and portrayed as very bland and extremely generic. “American Murderer” is just a jumbled mess of scenes that don’t add up to anything but a tedious and substandard “criminal investigation” movie that fails to offer impactful insights into the real people involved in this case.

Saban Films and Lionsgate released “American Murderer” in select U.S. cinemas on October 21, 2022. The movie was released on digital and VOD on October 28, 2022.

2020 Academy Awards: Elton John, Cynthia Erivo, Idina Menzel, Randy Newman, Chrissy Metz will perform Oscar-nominated songs

January 23, 2020

The following is a press release from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and ABC:

Cynthia Erivo, Oscar winner Elton John, Idina Menzel, Chrissy Metz and Oscar winner Randy Newman will perform this year’s nominated songs at the 92nd Oscars ceremony, show producers Lynette Howell Taylor and Stephanie Allain announced today. “The Oscars” will air live, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, on ABC.

“We’re excited to have an incredible group of nominees and performers who will deliver one-of-a-kind music moments you will only see on the Oscars,” said Howell Taylor and Allain.

This year’s Original Song nominees and performers are as follows (in alphabetical order by song title):

· “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from “Toy Story 4” – performed by Randy Newman; music and lyric by Randy Newman

· “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman” – performed by Elton John; music by Elton John; lyric by Bernie Taupin

· “I’m Standing with You” from “Breakthrough” – performed by Chrissy Metz; music and lyric by Diane Warren

· “Into the Unknown” from “Frozen II” – performed by Idina Menzel and AURORA; music and lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

· “Stand Up” from “Harriet” – performed by Cynthia Erivo; music and lyric by Joshuah Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo

In addition to the five nominated song performances, the show will feature a special appearance by Questlove and a guest-conducted segment by Eímear Noone. Noone is the first woman to conduct during an Oscars telecast.

The producers will continue to announce talent joining the show in the coming weeks.

The 92nd Oscars will be held on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby(R) Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center(R) in Hollywood and will be televised live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. EST/5:00 p.m. PST. “Oscars: Live on the Red Carpet” will air at 6:30 p.m. EST/3:30 p.m. PST. “The Oscars” also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

About The Academy

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 9,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles.

Follow The Academy (#Oscars) at www.oscars.org and on social media: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

UPDATE: Billie Eilish and Janelle Monáe have been added to the lineup of performers. They will perform separately. The songs they will perform have not been announced.

In addition, these presenters have been announced for the ceremony: Mahershala Ali, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Zazie Beetz, Timothée Chalamet, Olivia Colman, James Corden, Penélope Cruz, Beanie Feldstein, Will Ferrell, Gal Gadot, Zack Gottsagen, Salma Hayek, Mindy Kaling, Diane Keaton, Regina King, Shia LaBeouf, Brie Larson, Spike Lee, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, George MacKay, Rami Malek, Steve Martin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ray Romano, Anthony Ramos, Keanu Reeves, Maya Rudolph, Mark Ruffalo, Kelly Marie Tran, Sigourney Weaver, Kristen Wiig and Rebel Wilson.

2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Celine Dion, Jimmy Fallon, The Roots added to lineup

November 13, 2019

The following is a press release from NBC:

A spectacle like no other awaits millions as the 93rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, the nation’s most cherished holiday tradition, once again kicks off the holiday season. Millions of families will tune in to watch the excitement unfold on Thursday, Nov. 28 as Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker of NBC News’ “TODAY” host the broadcast from 9 a.m.-noon in all time zones that will also include a special debut performance from her new album Courage by the incomparable Celine Dion.

The Macy’s Parade has must-see entertainment for everyone in the family. Joining the festivities will be stars from a variety of global music genres from pop, R&B and country to Latin and K-Pop, with a few noteworthy special appearances thrown in the mix. Appearing or performing onboard one of Macy’s signature floating stages will be Natasha Bedingfield, Black Eyed Peas, Chicago, Ciara, Josh Dela Cruz, Celine Dion, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Debbie Gibson, former NASA astronauts Kay Hire & Janet Kavandi, Chris Janson, Idina Menzel, Lea Michele, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, NHL legends Dominic Moore and Eddie Olczyk, the cast & Muppets of Sesame Street, NCT 127, Ozuna, Billy Porter, Kelly Rowland, That Girl Lay Lay, TLC, Tenille Townes and Chris Young; with an extra special appearance by the one-and-only Santa Claus.

To kick-off the revelry, a special must-see opening number featuring a who’s who of actors, singers, dancers and more, all joined by the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street, will start the Thanksgiving Day party with a smash.

Following the opener on 34th Street, Broadway’s best shows will take a star turn in front of Macy’s famed flagship with special performances from the casts of Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations, Beetlejuice, Hadestown and Tina – The Tina Turner Musical. In addition, the show-stopping Radio City Rockettes® will bring their signature high-kicking magic to Herald Square.

Since November 1924, the magic of the holiday season has begun with the march of the Macy’s Parade as it enthrals the nation with its signature mix of whimsical elements and special performances. For the 93rd edition, the line-up will feature 16 giant character balloons; 40 novelty balloons, heritage balloons, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 26 floats; 1,200 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; and 11 marching bands.

“We are thrilled to present the 93rd edition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to our viewers nationwide,” said Doug Vaughan, Executive Vice President, Special Programs, NBC Entertainment. “This iconic tradition will once again jump start the holiday season with a celebration led by an incredible lineup of performers, bands, floats, balloons and more.”

For the fourth year, Macy’s, along with NBCUniversal and Verizon, will give viewers an up close and personal second screen experience of the Parade with a 360-degree livestream on Verizon’s YouTube page. The stream will go live at 8:30 a.m. EST at www.youtube.com/verizon and will run through noon EST. With exclusive access to cameras along the entire Parade route, online spectators will get a glimpse of the magic behind the scenes, as well as a preview of what’s to come as the Parade marches down the streets of Manhattan. Additional information on the livestream to be announced soon.

New giant balloons joining the line-up this year include Astronaut Snoopy by Peanuts Worldwide, Green Eggs and Ham by Netflix, and SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary by Nickelodeon. In celebration of his 75thbirthday, a heritage balloon and fan-favorite will return to the Parade as Smokey Bear returns to the skies over Manhattan.

Since 2005, the Macy’s Parade has also been home to a collection of high-flying artworks created in collaboration with renowned contemporary artists, as part of a special series titled Macy’s Blue Sky Gallery. This year, for the eighth edition of the collection, the world’s most renowned female contemporary artist will take her iconic art to new heights as Yayoi Kusama joins the Macy’s Parade with her Love Flies Up to the Sky balloon creation. The balloon design was developed by the artist from face motifs that appear in her “My Eternal Soul” series of paintings — a body of work that she began in 2009. Vibrant and animated, the paintings embody Kusama’s innovative exploration of form and revolve around a tension between abstraction and figuration. The artist’s signature dots, which recur throughout her practice, also feature prominently in the Macy’s Parade balloon design. Previous balloons in the Macy’s Parade Blue Sky Gallery series have included works from famed artists Tom Otterness, Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, Takashi Murakami, Tim Burton, KAWS and FriendsWithYou.

This year five new floats will debut, including Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues & You! (Josh Dela Cruz), The Brick-changer by The Lego Group (NCT 127), Home Sweet Home by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® (Tenille Townes), Rexy in the City by COACH® (Billy Porter), and Toy House of Marvelous Milestones by New York Life (Kelly Rowland).

The nation’s best marching bands bring the beat to the holiday revelry. For this year’s 93rd march, 11 of the specially chosen ensembles will ignite coast-to-coast excitement and hometown pride as they step off and perform on the streets of the Big Apple. This year’s bands include Awesome Original Second Time Arounders Marching Band (St. Petersburg, FL), Blue Springs High School Golden Regiment (Blue Springs, MO), Catalina Foothills Falcon Band (Tucson, AZ), Franklin Regional Panther Band (Murrysville, PA), Macy’s Great American Marching Band (United States), Madison Central High School Band (Richmond, KY), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. High School’s Kings of Halftime (Lithonia, GA), Morgan State University’s The Magnificent Marching Machine (Baltimore, MD), NYPD Marching Band (New York, NY), Ronald Reagan High School Marching Band (San Antonio, TX) and Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band (Cullowhee, NC).

Entertaining the crowds with their signature exuberance will be the Parade’s signature large and specialty performance groups. Joining the line-up this year are the teen dancers and cheerleaders of Spirit of America Dance Stars and Spirit of America Cheer. These groups together feature more than 1,200 of the very best performers recruited from hometowns nationwide. Days before Thanksgiving, they will gather for the first time in New York City to rehearse their numbers as a group, ahead of their once-in-a-lifetime national spotlight. Adding some wacky 1980s style dancing will be the hilarious 610 Stompers (New Orleans, LA), with modern dance youth talent showcased by The Alvin Ailey School (New York, NY) and the tap dance theatrics of children from The Nice List (New York, NY). Rounding out the performance group line-up and joining select talent performances will be Gamma Phi Circus (Normal, IL), Manhattan Youth Ballet (New York, NY), the dance stars of the world-renowned in-school arts education program National Dance Institute (New York, NY) and Young People’s Chorus of NYC (New York, NY).

PLEASE NOTE: All talent, performers, elements and information included are subject to change.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast is produced by the Emmy Award-winning Brad Lachman Productions. Brad Lachman serves as executive producer, Bill Bracken will co-executive produce and Ron de Moraes directs.

For an insider’s look at the holiday procession, fans nationwide should visit macys.com/parade for regular updates including behind-the-scenes previews, special tours, interactive historical information, and more. Fans can also follow @macys on various social networks and join the conversation using #MacysParade.

2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: major floats, celebrity appearances announced

November 1, 2019

The following is a press release from NBC:

A spectacle like no other awaits millions, as the 93rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, the nation’s most cherished holiday tradition, kicks off the holiday season. On Thursday, November 28 at 9 a.m., the time honored phrase Let’s Have a Parade™ will ring from the starting line as the march of fantasy takes to the streets of New York City. With more than 8,000 volunteers dressed as clowns, guiding the flight of larger-than-life character balloons, transporting spectators to new worlds on signature floats, bringing the beat in the nation’s best marching bands and entertaining the crowds as part of dazzling performance groups, the annual march is jam-packed with entertainment. With more than 3.5 million spectators in New York City and more than 50 million television viewers nationwide, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is America’s premiere holiday celebration.

“Spectacle is synonymous with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and each year we aim to create an even bigger one than the last, with incredible must-see entertainment for millions of spectators nationwide,” said Susan Tercero, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “Featuring an amazing line-up of high-flying character balloons, jaw-dropping animated floats, world-class marching bands and performance groups, artists covering a variety of musical genres, and of course, the one-and-only Santa Claus, we are ‘Parade Ready’ and can’t wait to take to the streets of New York City to once again herald the arrival of the holiday season.”

For more than nine decades, the magic of the holiday season has begun with the march of the Macy’s Parade, as the spectacle enthrals the nation with its signature mix of whimsical elements and dazzling performances. For the 93rd edition, the line-up will feature 16 giant character balloons; 40 novelty balloons, heritage balloons, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 26 floats; 1,200 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; and 11 marching bands.

INFLATABLE ICONS
Since 1927, when the Parade’s character balloons first joined the revelry, the inflatables have become a signature element featuring some of the world’s most beloved characters. Over time, the inflatables have morphed from air-filled characters carried on sticks to high-flying giants, balloonheads and even hybrid inflatables with vehicles inside (balloonicles) or tandem tricycles (trycaloons).

New giants joining the line-up this year include Astronaut Snoopy by Peanuts Worldwide, Green Eggs and Ham by Netflix, and SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary by Nickelodeon. In celebration of his 75th birthday, a heritage balloon and fan favorite will return to the Parade as Smokey Bear once again takes to the skies over Manhattan.

In 2005, the Macy’s Parade began to feature what would become a collection of high-flying artwork created in collaboration with renowned contemporary artists. The special series, entitled Macy’s Blue Sky Gallery, has featured some of the art world’s finest creators. This year, for the eighth edition of the series, the world’s most renowned female contemporary artist will take her iconic art to new heights as Yayoi Kusama joins the Macy’s Parade with her Love Flies Up to the Sky balloon. The design was developed by the artist from face motifs that appear in her “My Eternal Soul” series of paintings–a body of work that she began in 2009. Vibrant and animated, the paintings embody Kusama’s innovative exploration of form and revolve around a tension between abstraction and figuration. The artist’s signature dots–which recur throughout her practice—are also featured prominently in the Macy’s Parade balloon design. Previous balloons in the Macy’s Parade Blue Sky Gallery series have included works from famed artists Tom Otterness, Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, Takashi Murakami, Tim Burton, KAWS, and FriendsWithYou™.

Returning giant balloon characters include Diary of A Wimpy Kid® by Abrams Children’s Books; Sinclair Oil’s DINO®; The Elf on the Shelf®; Goku; Illumination Presents Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch; Jett by Super Wings™; Olaf from Disney’s “Frozen 2”; Chase from PAW Patrol®; Pikachu™ by the Pokémon Company International; Pillsbury Doughboy™; Power Rangers Mighty Morphin Red Ranger; Ronald McDonald®; and Trolls. Completing the inflatable lineup is the famed Aflac Duck, Sinclair Oil’s Baby DINOs and the Go Bowling balloonicles, as well as Universal Orlando Resort’s The Nutcracker.

STARS ON PARADE
The Macy’s Parade has must-see entertainment for everyone in the family. Joining the festivities will be stars from a variety of global music genres including Pop, R&B, Country, Latin and K-Pop, with a few noteworthy special appearances thrown in the mix. Appearing or performing onboard one of Macy’s signature floating stages will be Natasha Bedingfield, Black Eyed Peas, Chicago, Ciara, Josh Dela Cruz, Debbie Gibson, former NASA Astronauts Kay Hire & Janet Kavandi, Chris Janson, Idina Menzel, Lea Michele, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, NHL® Legends Dominic Moore and Eddie Olczyk, the cast & Muppets of Sesame Street, NCT 127, Ozuna, Billy Porter, Kelly Rowland, That Girl Lay Lay, TLC, Tenille Townes, and Chris Young; with an extra special appearance by the one-and-only Santa Claus.

FLOATING WONDERS
Conceived and crafted by the incredible artisans of Macy’s Parade Studio – a design and production facility that includes carpenters, engineers, electricians, painters, animators, sculptors, metal fabricators, scenic and costume designers – this year’s line-up of floats sets an unparalleled stage for entertainment. Gliding down Manhattan, the Parade’s signature floats transport spectators to worlds of wonder through creative design, engineering, and skillful construction. While they may seem to float down the Parade route as three stories tall and several lanes of traffic wide stages, the magic is truly in the design as these floats are built to collapse to no more than 12 ½-feet tall and 8-feet wide in order to travel safely from the New Jersey home of the Parade Studio to the Manhattan starting line via the Lincoln Tunnel each Thanksgiving eve.

This year, five new floats will debut including Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues & You! (Josh Dela Cruz), The Brick-changer by The Lego Group (NCT 127), Home Sweet Home by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® (Tenille Townes), Rexy in the City by COACH® (Billy Porter), and Toy House of Marvelous Milestones by New York Life (Kelly Rowland).

The returning float roster and its scheduled performers and special stars include 1-2-3 Sesame Street® by Sesame Workshop™ (The cast and Muppets of Sesame Street); Big City Cheer! by Spirit of America Productions (Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin); Central Park (Lea Michele); Christmas Cheer is Near by Elf Pets®/The Elf on the Shelf®; Cornucopia; Deck the Halls by Balsam Hill® (Idina Menzel); Everyone’s Favorite Bake Shop by Entenmann’s®; Fantasy Chocolate Factory by Kinder™ (Natasha Bedingfield), Harvest in the Valley by Green Giant® (Chris Janson); Heartwarming Holiday Countdown by Hallmark Channel (Chicago); Mount Rushmore’s American Pride by South Dakota Department of Tourism (Chris Young); the NHL® Most Valuable Hockey Mom presented by MassMutual (Black Eyed Peas and NHL® Legends Dominic Moore and Eddie Olczyk); Parade Day Mischief by SOUR PATCH KIDS® Candy (Ozuna); Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Nickelodeon (Ciara); Santa’s Sleigh (Santa Claus); Shimmer and Shine by Nickelodeon (Debbie Gibson); Snoopy’s Doghouse by Peanuts Worldwide (Charlie Brown and former NASA Astronauts Kay Hire and Janet Kavandi); Splashing Safari Adventure by Kalahari Resorts and Conventions (TLC); Tom Turkey; and Universal Playground by Universal Kids (That Girl Lay Lay).

Returning for a third year by popular demand, the Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree by Delta Air Lines will feature the harmonious voices of more than 100 Macy’s colleagues and friends from Delta hailing from across the nation and the world. Performing an original song to celebrate the start of the holiday season, the golden-voiced chorus will touch the hearts and uplift the spirits of millions.

STRIKE UP THE BAND AND DANCE
The nation’s best marching bands bring the beat to the holiday revelry. For this year’s 93rd march, 11 of the specially chosen ensembles will ignite coast-to-coast excitement and hometown pride as they step off and perform on the streets of the Big Apple. This year’s bands include Awesome Original Second Time Arounders Marching Band (St. Petersburg, FL), Blue Springs High School Golden Regiment (Blue Springs, MO), Catalina Foothills Falcon Band (Tucson, AZ), Franklin Regional Panther Band (Murrysville, PA), Macy’s Great American Marching Band (United States), Madison Central High School Band (Richmond, KY), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. High School’s Kings of Halftime (Lithonia, GA), Morgan State University’s The Magnificent Marching Machine (Baltimore, MD), NYPD Marching Band (New York, NY), Ronald Reagan High School Marching Band (San Antonio, TX), and Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band (Cullowhee, NC).

Entertaining the crowds with their signature exuberance will be the Parade’s signature large and specialty performance groups. Joining the line-up this year are the teen dancers and cheerleaders of Spirit of America Dance Stars and Spirit of America Cheer. These groups together feature more than 1,200 of the very best performers recruited from hometowns nationwide. Days before Thanksgiving, they will gather for the first time in New York City to rehearse their numbers as a group, ahead of their once-in-a-lifetime national spotlight. Adding some wacky 1980s style dancing will be the hilarious 610 Stompers (New Orleans, LA), with modern dance youth talent showcased by The Alvin Ailey School (New York, NY) and the tap dance theatrics of children from The Nice List (New York, NY). Rounding out the performance group line-up and joining select talent performances will be Gamma Phi Circus (Normal, IL), Manhattan Youth Ballet (New York, NY), the dance stars of the world-renowned in-school arts education program National Dance Institute (New York, NY) and Young People’s Chorus of NYC (New York, NY).

A NATIONAL SPECTACLE
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the nation’s biggest and most anticipated holiday celebration. Broadcast nationally on NBC, with millions of families nationwide tuning in to watch the excitement unfold,  the TODAY Show’s Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker will host the three-hour broadcast from 9 a.m. – noon (in all time zones).

To kick off the revelry, a special must-see opening number featuring a who’s who of actors, singers, dancers and more, all joined by the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street, will start the Thanksgiving Day party with a smash.

Following the opener, on 34th Street, Broadway’s best shows will take a star turn in front of Macy’s famed flagship with special performances.  In addition, the show-stopping Radio City Rockettes® will bring their signature high-kicking magic to Herald Square.

360 DEGREE INTERACTIVE FUN
For the fourth year, Macy’s, along with NBCUniversal and Verizon, will give viewers an up close and personal second screen experience of the Parade with a 360-degree livestream on Verizon’s YouTube page.  The stream will go live at 8:30 a.m. EST at www.youtube.com/verizon and will run through noon EST. With exclusive access to cameras along the entire Parade route, online spectators will get a glimpse of the magic behind the scenes, as well as a preview of what’s to come as the Parade marches down the streets of Manhattan.

For spectators in New York or those traveling to the city to see it live, the 93rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade begins at 9 a.m., kicking off from 77th Street and Central Park West. The procession will march to Columbus Circle, turn onto Central Park South and then march down 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas. At 34th Street, the Parade will make its final turn west and end at 7th Avenue in front of Macy’s Herald Square.

For an insider’s look at the holiday procession, fans nationwide should visit macys.com/parade or regular updates including behind-the-scenes previews, special tours, interactive historical information, and more.  Fans can also follow @macys on various social networks and join the conversation using #MacysParade.

This Thanksgiving, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will bring millions of spectators a dazzling celebration like no other. Start the countdown, in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … Let’s Have a Parade!

Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Hilton is the official hotel of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Ram is the official truck of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Remo is the official drumhead provider of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Under Armour is the official outerwear provider of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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