Actor Tom Hanks speaks onstage during the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on January 27, 2019. (AFP/Frederic J. Brown)
Joe Biden has cast himself as a unifier for the nation, but there is someone else the incoming administration hopes can help start healing a divided United States next week: universally beloved actor Tom Hanks.
The "Forrest Gump" star will host a special program broadcast simultaneously on all major US networks on the night of Biden's inauguration, American media reported.
The 90-minute show entitled "Celebrating America" will feature musical performances from Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake and Demi Lovato.
"I'm SO honored to announce that I will be joining @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris for their special event," Lovato wrote on Twitter.
The broadcast -- organized by the Presidential Inaugural Committee -- will replace the usual festivities at the swearing-in ceremony, canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Aretha Franklin sang at Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2009, while Beyonce performed at his second four years later.
Trump had to settle for less well-known artists in 2017 due to his unpopularity in the entertainment world. Country singer Toby Keith headlined the event.
The Hanks-hosted primetime special on Wednesday January 20 will start at 8:30 pm Eastern Time (0130 GMT Thursday) and will be aired on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC.
It will pay tribute to "American heroes," including workers on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19.