Garth Brooks will perform a free concert in New York’s Central Park in August that will be broadcast live by HBO.
The country music phenom is gearing the perf to top his record-breaking stand at Texas Stadium in 1993 and perhaps better Paul Simon’s widely attended 1991 perf in the park, which drew 600,000 fans.
The park concert had been expected (Daily Variety, June 21, 1996) and the deal had been in the works for almost a year.
The city fathers of New York are anticipating Brooks’ Aug. 7 perf will be the largest event in the park’s history, besting the Simon outing and the No Nukes rally held there in 1982, which are the park’s two biggest events.
Brooks has tapped veteran music helmer Marty Callner to direct the telecast, which will be produced by Jon Small of Picture Vision.
The choice of the Central Park locale is an unusual move for Brooks, but one that can benefit the entire genre.
The Big Apple, save for a handful of country shows, hasn’t been exceptionally warm to country music artists performing there. It also lacks a major country radio station.
But Brooks, who will make the park tour stop his only perf in Gotham as part of his current world tour, has made a career of going against the grain.
His Texas Stadium gig was witnessed by more than 70,000 fans and marked the genre’s largest gathering of country music fans. The perf’s airing as a TV spec on NBC garnered significant ratings for the web.
The concert marks the latest music spec for HBO, which recently broadcast Bette Midler’s show from Las Vegas.
But the cabler was left with egg on its face in 1995 when Michael Jackson abruptly canceled a concert set for telecast due to illness. The gig was never rescheduled.
Several artists have played the park, including a rain-soaked Diana Ross in 1983, who attracted 300,000 fans during each of the two nights she played, and James Taylor, whose 1979 concert drew more than 250,000 fans.