CHICAGO (December 15 , 2015) - Chi-Town Rising, Chicago's inaugural New Year's Eve celebration Presented by Corona Extra and Hosted by Hyatt Gold Passport, today announces the celebrity talent set to host the New Year's Eve broadcast both on NBC 5 Chicago and Telemundo Chicago. Mario Lopez will be the host talent for NBC 5 with Matt Iseman, Akbar Gbajabiamila, Courtney Lopez, and Marley Kayden as co-hosts. Penelope Menchaca and Maria Elena Ponticiello will be the host talent for Telemundo Chicago with Maricela Vázquez and Lily Fragoso as co-hosts. In addition to NBC 5 Chicago, Chi-Town Rising will air on over 40 NBC affiliates in the central United States. The program will also air nationally on COZI TV and in Spanish on TeleXitos.
The Chi-Town Rising live broadcast will be centered between Michigan Avenue & Columbus Drive, with the Chi-Town Rising Countdown Stage directly in front of the Hyatt Regency Chicago along Upper Wacker Drive. The broadcast will feature the musical performances of Billboard 2014 Top Artist American Authors and legendary rock band Chicago®, a dazzling midnight countdown with a 75-foot tall Chicago Star rising 360-feet into the night sky, and an epic fireworks display linking the event site with Navy Pier's annual fireworks in one grand display synchronized to a musical soundtrack.
NBC 5 Chicago and Telemundo Chicago will broadcast the event live starting at 11:08 p.m. and Telemundo Chicago will begin at 11:00 p.m.
NBC 5 CHICAGO BROADCAST: 11:08 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015
Mario Lopez, Host
A man of many trades, Mario Lopez has the overwhelming desire to always keep active. Mario is the Emmy winning host of "EXTRA," a nationally syndicated daily show. Concurrently, Lopez is the host of the nationwide iHeartMedia radio shows "On with Mario Lopez" and "iHeartRadio Countdown with Mario Lopez." Not only does Lopez have a proclivity for the entertainment industry, he is also an avid sports fan. He has taken his love for sports, specifically boxing, to the next level as a recurring commentator on HBO Boxing. Lopez also produced the documentary CHAMPS, which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. The film focuses on the lives of boxers Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins. In March 2015, MundoFox premiered the docu-reality series "Los Golden Boys," produced by Mario Lopez and Oscar De La Hoya. The new series dives into what it takes to become a world-boxing champion and the daily struggles fighters face.
In September 2014, Lopez released his first autobiography, "Just Between Us." In his memoir, Lopez shares his successes and disappointments, never before-told stories and family values. Lopez became a New York Times bestselling author for his healthy eating guide "Extra Lean." In May 2011, he released the follow up to Extra Lean entitled "Extra Lean Family." This new book featured recipes and tips that are beneficial to the entire family.
No stranger to rigorous routines, Lopez danced his way to the finals in the third season of ABC's hit show "Dancing with the Stars." Shortly after, in summer 2009, Lopez successfully completed his first run on Broadway. He starred in the long running hit musical "A Chorus Line" as the audience loved character ‘Zach.'
Matt Iseman, Co-Host
After graduating with honors from Princeton University and the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Matt Iseman moved out to Hollywood to pursue stand-up comedy and he never looked back. Matt began his hosting career with the show Scream Play on E!, which allowed Iseman to combine his love of movies and dangerous stunts. He then got lucky as he ran the streets of Las Vegas hosting Casino Night for GSN. Shortly thereafter, he started a 5-year run as the Goto Guy on Clean House, the #1 show on the Style Network. He also hosted a spin-off show called Clean House Comes Clean and tackled 5 Messiest Homes in the Country, garnering ratings 400% higher than Style had ever seen and earning Iseman a Daytime Emmy (the first ever for the network). Matt added the title Producer to his resume as he created, sold, and produced his first show Saving Mom for the Style Network. He's also produced and hosted the "Best of American Ninja Warrior" for NBC. Iseman made his movie debut in "Transformers 2" as well as appearances on the "Drew Carey Show," "NCIS," "Courting Alex" and had a recurring role on "General Hospital." His CD, "I Want a Happy Ending," has become an iTunes sensation. Iseman currently hosts "American Ninja Warrior" for NBC, as well as "Team Ninja Warrior" on Esquire Network debuting in 2016.
Akbar Gbajabiamila, Co-Host
Akbar Gbajabiamila is co-host of NBC's heart-racing obstacle course competition series "American Ninja Warrior." The Southern California native has parlayed a five-year stint in the National Football League into a career in television as a host and actor. An undrafted NFL free agent in 2003, Gbajabiamila signed with the Oakland Raiders where he spent two seasons before moving on to the San Diego Chargers and then to the Miami Dolphins. In 2005, he was selected as one of the NFL's first athletes to join their Broadcast Boot Camp, which was held at NFL Films in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and designed to give 20 pLayers a short and rigorous look into the skills needed to embark on a broadcast or journalism career after their playing days. After retiring in 2008, Gbajabiamila turned his focus to television, serving as an analyst for the NFL Network and joining NBC's hit competition show "American Ninja Warrior." In 2015, Gbajabiamila will star in his first feature film "The Sac Fly." This is a socially conscious movie about a child's life placed in the hands of a hateful man.
Courtney Lopez, Co-Host
A classically trained musical theater actor, Courtney Lopez has performed in multiple Broadway shows such as "John Waters' Cry Baby," "Disney's The Little Mermaid," and "A Chorus Line." Courtney was also in the Broadway national tour of "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Lopez has been a guest soloist for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, headed by legendary conductor Marvin Hamlisch, and served as a correspondent for HBO's "Top Rank Boxing."
Most recently, she starred alongside her husband Mario Lopez in "Saved By The Baby" on Vh1, "Mario and Courtney's Wedding Fiesta" on TLC and is a co-host on the syndicated radio show "On With Mario Lopez." She also co-hosts "EXTRA" on occasion. Additionally, she was recently the host of NUVOtv's cutting edge dance meets dating show, "Love and Salsa."
Marley Kayden, Co-Host
Marley Kayden is the Weekend Traffic Anchor on NBC 5 News. She also anchors and writes her own weekday daily show, "Most Actives with Marley Kayden," for CBOE-TV at the Chicago Board Options Exchange.
Kayden holds a Master of Science in Journalism with concentrations in Economic Reporting and Broadcast from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Virginia. She is also a member of Kappa Tau Alpha National Journalism Honor Society.
Before moving to Chicago, Kayden spent more than half of her life working as a professional musical theater actor in New York. She rarely misses the chance to sing a few bars and can often be caught singing at home, at her desk, or in the studio.
TELEMUNDO CHICAGO NATIONAL BROADCAST: 11:00 p.m., Thursday,
Dec. 31, 2015
Penelope Menchaca, Host
Penelope Menchaca is one of the most beloved and recognized personalities of Spanish language television. She has her own show in two major Spanish-language TV networks, Telemundo's "12 Corazones" and Televisa's "12 Corazones Mexicanos." "12 Corazones" airs in more than 16 countries including Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Peru and Puerto Rico. Menchaca has participated in numerous Telemundo specials, including "Miss Universe" and the "Billboard Latin Music Awards," among others. She has also appeared on numerous television and radio commercials for national and regional campaigns for clients such as Coca Cola, Verizon, Directv, and Universal Studios.
Maria Elena Ponticiello, Host
Maria Elena Ponticiello is the host of Telemundo Chicago's entertainment show "Acceso Total/ Total Access." Ponticiello has worked on Mexico's network TV Azteca. In 2008, Ponticiello won a "Telly Award" as a host of the program "Little Green Men" for the English-speaking market. Ponticiello has won six Emmy Awards, including the award for Best Host of the Year in 2011.
Maricela Vázquez, Co-Host
Maricela Vázquez is the meteorologist for "Noticiero Telemundo Chicago." She has previously worked as the weekend weather anchor, entertainment reporter, promotions producer, and weather assistant. Currently, Vázquez is the only Latina meteorologist in Chicago to have earned the National Weather Association's Weathercaster Seal of Approval. As a journalist, she won an Emmy in 2006 for her coverage of the death of Pope John Paul the Second and has received six more nominations from the Academy of Art and Television.
Lily Fragoso, Co-Host
Lilyanna Fragoso is a producer and entertainment reporter for Telemundo Chicago's entertainment show "Acceso Total/Total Access" as well as the Chicago correspondent for Telemundo's national morning show "Un Nuevo Dia/ A New Day." Previously, Fragoso ran her own midday radio show as well hosted a Spanish rock pop station in Las Vegas, Nevada. She later became host of Univision's Spanish rock and pop station La Kalle 99.3. Fragoso also served as the emcee of "SUBWAY Artistas Frescos," featuring artists like Mana, Pitbull, Juanes, and Romeo Santos. She is a two time Emmy nominee and one time Emmy recipient.
For media who are interested in covering the inaugural Chi-Town Rising event and being credentialed, please register as media on www.Chi-TownRising.com.
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NBC 5 (WMAQ-TV) is the owned NBC station in Chicago. On October 8, 1948, the station, then called WNBQ-TV, transmitted its first telecast from the Merchandise Mart-the third game of the Indians-Braves World Series in Cleveland, Ohio. The station's current call letters, WMAQ-TV, were established in 1964.