Oscars a go, but toned down - Broadcasting & Cable

Oscars a go, but toned down

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While the Oscars still are scheduled to go on as planned Sunday, most media
coverage is being canceled, as are the red-carpet entrances, the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences told reporters at a Hollywood press conference
Tuesday.

"We all understand that the country is on the brink of war and may be sending
American men and women into harm's way almost as we speak. We must prepare for
the show to be produced under those circumstances," said Gil Cates, the show's
executive producer.

While many media outlets had already reported that ABC and the Academy
planned to press forward with a toned-down version of the gala event, the
Academy wanted to reiterate its intention as rumors continued to fly about the
show.

Cates said the Academy had gotten many calls from agents and managers because
the celebrities they represent do not want to be interviewed before the show. As
a result, press coverage will be limited to a pool report and most of the 500
members of the media who had planned to cover the show now will not be
attending.

"Many of them or all of them are going to be horribly disappointed," Cates
said. "We all have to make this thing happen in the best way for everyone."

For entertainment newsmagazines -- Access Hollywood, Entertainment
Tonight
and Extra -- and entertainment cable networks such asE! Entertainment Television, this means coverage plans are going to have to
be drastically altered.

"We were planning on doing our Monday-night show from inside the Kodak
Theatre [where the Oscars are held], but now that's not going to happen. And
there's no red carpet, so that changes," said Rob Silverstein, executive
producer of NBC Enterprises' Access Hollywood.

At this point, the shows' one-on-one rooms where anchors interview winners
will remain, and Pat O'Brien and Nancy O'Dell still plan to handle the honors
for Access Hollywood.

Also in question is whether the after-parties will go on as scheduled.
Silverstein said Access Hollywood plans to cover the galas, but if they
don't take place or if press isn't allowed, the show instead will cover
that.

Meanwhile, the entertainment-focused shows are switching their coverage to
the impending attacks on Iraq, Silverstein said.

Celebrities are also concerned about dressing appropriately, Cates said, and
he expects the dress code to be a more somber than usual.

While Cates expects presenters to stick to the script, he said each winner
gets to use his or her 45 seconds to say what he or she wants "within the bounds
of good taste," so some anti-war comments are likely to be made.

If the Academy Awards somehow end up being canceled, which has never happened
in the history of the show, advertisers stand to lose a lot of money.
Advertisers are ponying up $1.3 million per 30-second spot, which they could
lose if the show does not go on.

The Academy Awards has been postponed three times in its history: when a
flood hit Los Angeles in 1938, after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in
1968 and after Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981.

There is still a possibility that the awards show could be postponed, Cates
said, but that decision rests on war-related events the Academy and ABC cannot
yet predict.

The Academy will hold its traditional press conference Friday afternoon
before the show, and more information may be available at the time, Cates
said.

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