Ready for Obama

The inauguration, Tinseltown-style

Hollywood will all but take over Washington when Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States this week.

The syndicated magazine shows sent crews to Washington, D.C., last week to continue gathering stories and prepare for Sunday's star-studded free show from the Lincoln Memorial, with performances from top-notch artists including Beyonce, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Mary J. Blige and many more.

Over the weekend, CBS Television Distribution's Entertainment Tonight, the top-rated entertainment magazine, was scheduled to have covered the historic train ride of President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden and their families as they rode from Philadelphia to Delaware to Baltimore to Washington, arriving in time to start the days-long party on Saturday night. ET correspondent Kevin Frazier went along for the ride, says Linda Bell Blue, executive producer of both ET and The Insider.

On the night of Jan. 19, ET has exclusive access to the Huffington Post party at the Newseum at Pennsylvania Ave. and Fifth St. N.W. Leonardo DiCaprio is expected to attend, and Will.I.Am and Sting are slated to perform. A New Year's Eve-style countdown to Inauguration Day will take place at midnight.

On Tuesday night, the city will be alive with galas, but most of the media focus will be on just a few. The Creative Coalition is throwing a ball at the Convention Center, hosted by stars such as Anne Hathaway, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Spike Lee, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Kerry Washington. MTV and BET also are throwing big parties.

While all of the magazines know where the main action is, all of them want to present their coverage with a unique spin. Besides sending correspondents Shaun Robinson and Maria Menounos, NBC Universal's Access Hollywood plans to spend a day following Sean “Diddy” Combs.

“Who better for a show like ours to follow than Diddy?” says Rob Silverstein, Access' executive producer. “He's going to be everywhere, and we're going to document his entire inaugural weekend.”

Likewise, Warner Bros.' Extra is putting former L.A. Lakers star Rick Fox and three cameras in an RV and following him from Los Angeles to Chicago to Washington.

Extra also is teaming with QVC to send an Extra “friend,” signed up on the show's Website at, on an all-expense-paid trip to the inauguration and the sold-out Creative Coalition ball.

CTD's Inside Edition will cover the celebrities, too, but it's also seeking man-on-the-street stories to tell. Anchor Deborah Norville will host from D.C., with three correspondents on the ground to report. The staff is camping out on air mattresses in a rented house on Capitol Hill.

The show plans to follow a hospital janitor from San Diego who is such a big Obama fan that his co-workers collected money to send him to the inauguration, says Executive Producer Charles Lachman.

Inside Edition also is reporting a story about junior high school kids who are throwing their own inaugural ball at a hotel in nearby Oxen Hill, Md.

“The celebrity quotient will be important, but we're not going to ignore the more traditional stories that have been our bread-and-butter for so many years,” Lachman says.

Warner Bros.' upstart TMZ plans to cover the inauguration in the show's hit-and-run style.“We'll cover the inauguration with the same M.O. we use in covering events like the Academy Awards or the Emmys,” says Harvey Levin, TMZ's executive producer. “We're not so interested in covering the red carpets. We want to get the texture of the town. It's what people are doing off the red carpet that tends to be more interesting and fun.”