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Mastermind Danny Boyle shares details for London 2012 opening ceremony

By Ronnie Polidoro
Rock Center

Paul McCartney, Mary Poppins, James Bond, and a flock of sheep are all rumored to be part of tomorrow night’s opening ceremony to the London Summer Olympics. But is there any validity to the rumors?

In his only interview with an American broadcaster, British filmmaker and ceremony director Danny Boyle sat down with NBC News Special Correspondent Meredith Vieira to talk about his vision for what is right now the biggest show on the planet. The story airs on Rock Center with Brian Williams tonight at 10pm/9c. 

Boyle is responsible for every performance, every costume, every song the show’s estimated one billion viewers will see and hear. Boyle’s ceremony follows the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, where China dazzled the world with the size and precision of its opening ceremony featuring more than 15,000 performers. 

“Beijing was beyond compare. It was on a scale that is unimaginable,” Boyle told Vieira, “So you go fine, all hail Beijing.  That’s the peak, but we’ve got a great job because we can start again with something a little bit different.” 

Instead of the spectacle in Beijing of a thousand drummers beating in unison, Boyle says he plans to open the ceremony in the English countryside with a live game of cricket, 70 sheep, and clouds that produce fake rain. 




However that’s not all that’s known.  Just a few days ago Rock Center got a sneak peak when its cameras stumbled upon cast members headed to a dress rehearsal; spotting performers in costume as factory workers, doctors, dalmatians, and edgy urban youth. 

Rumors have trickled out; including a performance by former Beatle Paul McCartney, a possible stunt by James Bond, and a battle between Mary Poppins and Harry Potter’s arch-nemesis Lord Voldemort.  

But will the country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter, David Beckham's right foot, David Beckham's left foot only praise itself during tomorrow’s ceremony?  Knowing Boyle’s track record with films like Trainspotting (1996), 28 Days Later (2002), and Slumdog Millionaire (2008), the auteur of grit is expected to include dark vignettes highlighting pollution, poverty, and protests in British cities. 

The title of the ceremony’s opening act may confirm the speculation.  Boyle calls it “Pandemonium.” 

“[It’s] the capital of Hell in [John] Milton’s Paradise Lost,” Boyle said, “There’s a contrary nature to it.  But actually it is a massive celebration as well.” 

Watch Meredith Vieira’s preview of that massive celebration tonight, July 26th at 10/9c on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams.

Editor’s Note:  Meredith Vieira will co-host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony along with Matt Lauer and Bob Costas Friday, July 27th at 7:30pm ET.