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Mar 18, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Oscarcast Eliminates Red Carpet

In the event of war between the United States and Iraq, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has decided to tone down parts of its Academy Awards ceremony scheduled to air live on ABC beginning at 8:30 (ET)/5:30 (PT) Sunday.

Gone is the red carpet procession during which arriving celebrities interviewed by journalists before entering the event, said Gil Cates, producer of the high-profile ABC network TV show, during a press conference in Los Angeles this afternoon. The red carpet segment takes place during the half-hour pre-show broadcast.

“We wanted to make the [ceremony] more appropriate to the times,” Mr. Cates said. Interviews will, however, take place in an area inside the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, where the ceremonies will be held.

As to whether the The 75th Annual Academy Awards might be postponed altogether, AMPAS President Frank Pierson said, “We are not going to address that question now.” Still, both executives noted that ABC might need to adjust to war coverage from ABC News should events take place.

“If you were a betting man, the show will be on Sunday,” Mr. Cates said.

Concerning the TV program itself, ABC has said commercial advertising time made by advertisers are a now firm “orders.” That means advertisers can’t ask the network for their money back.

Estimates are that advertisers paid between $1.3 million and $1.4 million for a 30-second commercial spot during the Oscarcast. According to one advertising executive close to the network, no advertiser has asked out of the broadcast.

PGA event could move to CNBC: NBC Sports announced today that if the Bay Hill Invitational is pre-empted on the network by NBC News coverage of the situation in Iraq this weekend, the PGA Tour event would be carried live on CNBC from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and, if necessary, starting at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Countdown to War Coverage scores for ABC: ABC’s full evening of news coverage of the mobilization for war by America scored better with audiences in general and young viewers in particular than Fox’s Married by America, according to data from Nielsen Media Research for a night on which the short speech in which President Bush started the clock meant some entertainment programming was joined in progress and some was delayed.

Preliminary national data showed the three-hour ABC News special, When Diplomacy Fails, averaged 12.838 million viewers to finish in close competition for second place for the night in viewers and in the 18 to 49 demo (a 4.4) to CBS (12.965 million viewers, 4.5 in the 18 to 49 demo).

NBC won the night in viewers (13.703 million) and the demo (5.5).

Fox finished fourth for the night in viewers (an average 7.114 million) and the demo (3.3) with Married logging 6.757 million viewers and a 3.4 in the demo.

In the half-hour dominated by the presidential address, data showed NBC with 18.014 million viewers and a 6.9 in the demo, followed by ABC (15,585 million, 5.1), CBS (15,348 million, 5.1), and Fox (7.144 million, 3.3).

Turner Turned Down as War Reporter: Media mogul Ted Turner says he recently volunteered with Cable News Network, which he founded, offering to go to Baghdad as a reporter to cover the war, but was turned down.

“I’m 64 and I’ve been pretty well wiped out anyway,” Mr. Turner said, referring to the precipitous drop in the value of his AOL Time Warner stock. He was told he wasn’t “really qualified,” Mr. Turner continued, adding that it was the same thing critics said when he’d started CNN. “All I’d have to do is hold the microphone up and say, ‘The bombs are falling,'” Mr. Turner said to laughter from an appreciative insider audience that included NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw.

Mr. Turner, who called his offer to CNN a “spur-of-the-moment thing,” made his remarks this morning during a “conversation” with New Yorker writer Ken Auletta, one of a series of such events held in Manhattan and sponsored by Syracuse University’s Newhouse School.

A CNN spokeswoman expressed surprise at Mr. Turner’s offer to become a war correspondent, but did not reply immediately to a request for additional comment.

CNBC postpones ‘Topic A’: The increasing prospect that the United States will be waging war on Iraq this week has caused CNBC to postpone Topic A With Tina Brown, which was scheduled to be the first of an intermittent series of roundtable discussions with A-list guests to be hosted and moderated by the celebrity editor. It had been scheduled for 9 p.m. Wednesday.

When Topic A was announced, the subject of Ms. Brown’s debut special was to have been Hollywood, because of the hour’s proximity to Sunday’s Oscars telecast. As war had become increasingly likely, the subject had been changed to the new climate of fear and questions of leadership.

Correspondents dinner moved to June 4: The Radio-Television Correspondents Association announced today that it has postponed its annual black-tie dinner in Washington this week to free its correspondent members to cover the expected invasion of Iraq.

“We were hearing from our membership that they were going to be working,” said Annie Tin, the group’s leader. “They’re all covering the war.”

Ms. Tin said more than 2,000 had been expected for the dinner, which had been slated for Thursday evening. The new date: June 4. Ms. Tin also said that this is the first time the dinner has had to be rescheduled in the 59 years it has been held.

MTV Promotes Dix to senior VP: Michele Megan Dix has been promoted to the position of senior VP, music and talent programming, MTV and MTV2.

Ms. Dix will continue to be based in New York and to report to Tom Calderone, executive VP, music and talent programming, MTV and MTV2.

She will continue to be responsible for developing new series and specials for MTV and MTV2, and will continue as coordinating producer for the MTV Video Music Awards.