Neil Patrick Harris Performs as Michael Jackson on ‘Lip Sync Battle Live’

Neil Patrick Harris at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards
Neil Patrick Harris at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards, Photo: ©PATRICKMCMULLAN.COM

East Hampton homeowner Neil Patrick Harris puts himself in the ring for lip synch dominance tonight on Lip Sync Battle LIVE: A Michael Jackson Celebration.

Paramount Network (now Spike TV) is airing the show live from the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles at 9 p.m., pitting Harris against Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures), Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black) and Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit).

This first-ever live broadcast of the hit TV lip synching contest, Lip Sync Battle—which begins its fourth season next Thursday, January 25—marks the switch from man-centric Spike TV to the new Paramount Network with programming “inspired by over a century of cinema.” The network will continue airing successful Spike TV staples, such as two-time Emmy-nominated Lip Synch Battle, Bar Rescue, Ink Master and Bellator MMA, while adding some promising new shows.

Original Paramount Network offerings include highlights such as Heathers, a modern take on the classic 1980s film; Waco, a six-part dramatization of David Koresh (played by Taylor Kitsch) and the Branch Davidian cult, which went down in flames during a botched 1993 ATF raid; and Yellowstone, a scripted drama starring Kevin Costner as a tough rancher protecting his massive land holdings “against attack by land developers, an Indian reservation and America’s first National Park.”

Hosted by L.L. Cool J and Chrissy Teigen, tonight’s one-hour Lip Sync Battle LIVE: A Michael Jackson Celebration will pit Harris, Cox, Henson and Steinfeld (and possible surprise guests) against each other in a Michael Jackson-themed lip synch contest. The winner will be crowned based on viewer votes.

“I’m a fan of Lip Synch Battle; I’ve always looked for a reason to be able do it,” Harris says in a pre-show promo video (see below). “I’m excited about this big celebration of Michael Jackson,” he continues. “I mean, his music is inspiring, and to have four different performers doing different versions of his songs—it’s going to be a cool hour.”

Speaking about his performance, but without revealing the song, Harris says, “It takes place in a speakeasy; there’s a microphone, hats, some craps is being played, I flip a guy—this song is so good, it’s such a classic…”

We’re thinking Harris must be performing “Smooth Criminal,” right? We’d bet money on it, but we’ll have to watch to find out for sure.

“The vibe that MJ created will sort of pass on through all of us,” Harris adds in the promo. “I’m excited for sure. I’m nervous indeed. Let’s do this.”

The program also features a performance by the cast of Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil.

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