In Depth

HBO, MTV Change Inauguration TV Plans

HBO and MTV are adjusting their telecast plans as Tuesday’s inauguration of President-elect Obama draws near.

On Sunday night, HBO had been planning to telecast the opening event of the inauguration, an afternoon combined concert and reading at the Lincoln Memorial.

The musical performers for the event include Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Stevie Wonder, and James Taylor. Historical passages will be read by Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Queen Latifah, Jack Black and Steve Carrell.

Now HBO will also telecast the event live at 2:30 p.m. EST Sunday, repeating it twice Sunday night. The event is supposed to run two hours, but could go longer.

As in the original plan, HBO is working with satellite and cable operators to make its normally subscription service free for the inauguration telecast. The concert will also air on HBO Latino, with a Spanish translation for the readings.

HBO has an exclusive deal with the Presidential Inaugural Committee to air the whole concert, though other networks can air live any remarks of President-elect Obama or Vice president-elect Joseph Biden, as well as some footage from the concert itself.

The special will be executive produced by George Stevens, Jr. It will be produced by Don Mischer, who will direct the special, and Michael Stevens, who is writing the special. The program will be a production of the Stevens Company in association with Don Mischer Productions.

MTV also is changing its plans, televising the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s youth ball, rather than its own youth-oriented event.

MTV had originally planned to host its own ball on Tuesday night with ServiceNation that was to feature an MTV produced concert and information on the group’s service projects. The ball was to have been the first for MTV since Bill Clinton’s original inauguration in 1992.

Instead, MTV and ServiceNation are joining with the Presidential Inaugural Committee on the committee’s official Youth Inaugural Ball and MTV will now air that ball starting at 10 p.m. President Obama is to make remarks at the event.

The concert is now produced by the Presidential Inaugural Committee rather than MTV. As before, however, MTV’s broadcast will also feature news stories and cut aways to service projects both in the U.S. and overseas. Besides MTV, the program will air on several MTV channels in the U.S. with a rebroadcast scheduled immediately after the live show airs.

An MTV spokeswoman said the switch reflected ongoing discussions with the inaugural committee and a feeling that made more sense to have one official youth ball, than two youth balls.

(Editor: Baumann)