NBC has signed multi-platinum husband-and-wife country artists Faith Hill and Tim McGraw for separate fall primetime specials. The network is expected to officially announce the one-hour events today

NBC has signed multi-platinum husband-and-wife country artists Faith Hill and Tim McGraw for separate fall primetime specials. The network is expected to officially announce the one-hour events today (May 13) when it unveils its new schedule for advertisers in New York.

"They're both huge music artists right now; they sell millions and millions of records," Jeff Gaspin, executive VP alternative series, longform and program strategy at NBC Entertainment, said in an interview.

McGraw's special, his first for broadcast network TV, will likely be timed to coincide with the November release of a new album. The performer's "Greatest Hits" album, released in 2000 by Curb, has sold 3 million copies, according to SoundScan. Hill, who starred in the CBS special "Faith!" in 2000, is also at work on a new album. Her 1999 Warner Bros. release "Breathe" crossed over into the mainstream with the hit title track and the single "The Way You Love Me." The album has sold nearly 6 million units, according to SoundScan.

Gaspin, a former programmer at VH1, said good numbers for "Jennifer Lopez in Concert" last November, as well as a Dixie Chicks special in 2000, led NBC execs to seek more music-oriented fare for next season.

While McGraw and Hill worked together on a 2000 tour that grossed at least $45 million, Gaspin noted that their core fan bases don't precisely overlap, and that they aren't expected to perform together on the upcoming specials.

NBC is still working out the details of McGraw's special, but Gaspin said it will likely consist mostly of concert performances. Hill's special, however, will include onstage footage, interviews with the singer, and other behind-the-scenes material. Veteran TV director Gary Halvorson ("Friends," "Everybody Loves Raymond") has been tapped to direct.

"We will try to reinvent the TV special for an artist like Faith," Gaspin said. "We think [Halvorson will] bring a different approach than music video directors [would have]."


-- Scott Collins, The Hollywood Reporter



Nellie Andreeva and Tamara Conniff contributed to this report.

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