E! Sticking with Oscar Coverage - Multichannel

E! Sticking with Oscar Coverage

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E! Entertainment Television's Academy Awards coverage will go forward Sunday
night, even if the traditional red-carpet celebrity interview scene does
not.

With three days to go, E! maintained that it will offer at least 10 hours of
Oscar pre- and post-ceremony festivities March 23, as originally planned.

However, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' decision earlier
this week to cancel the red-carpet area where nominees and other Hollywood stars
hang out with media, amid what's happening in Iraq, will impact the tone of E!'s
coverage -- particularly what transpires with Joan and Melissa Rivers, E!'s
perennial red-carpet commentators.

"The show goes on, we'll be there," promised Mark Sonnenberg, E!'s executive
vice president of entertainment. "It pales in comparison to what's going on in
the Middle East, and we'll take the cue on our coverage from the Academy."

The network will have cameras placed in other locations near the Kodak
Theater in downtown Los Angeles, the ceremony's site, in order to catch
celebrities.

"Whatever happens, Joan and Melissa will have a lot to talk about beyond the
celebrities and what they're wearing," added Gary Snegaroff, original-production
VP at E!. "Who's going to win, who will show up at parties later and more. Our
content could change right up to show time. There are a lot of contingency
details being worked out."

Coverage producers have already lined up a variety of pretaped segments just
in case the Academy further curtails preshow media access to the stars.

Officials may have more to say on that subject Friday morning during their
traditional preshow press conference.

Snegaroff told Multichannel News those pretaped subjects include the
Oscars' relationship with war movies over its 75-year history; profiles of
period-piece films, such as Chicago and Gangs of New York, which
dominated this year's nominations; and nominee profiles.

More film experts may be on hand than usual for expanded commentary segments
throughout the day, he added.

As of Thursday afternoon, no advertisers had pulled their spots from E!'s
coverage, a network spokesperson said.

E!'s coverage is scheduled to start at noon Eastern time with a six-hour
Countdown segment anchored by E! News Daily talent. The Riverses come
in at 6 p.m. for the two-hour block before ABC's Oscar broadcast, then return at
midnight for a two-hour wrap of the ceremony and after-parties.

E!'s pre-show Rivers segment hit a 3.6 rating last year, drawing more than 3.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The six-hour Countdown segment preceding it earned a 0.9 rating and more than 868,000 viewers, while postshow coverage had about 517,000 viewers (a rating result for that segment was unavailable at press time).

Elsewhere, Discovery Networks U.S. acknowledged that it has received calls
from a number of advertisers over programming and sponsorship issues related to
the Iraq war.

However, a spokesperson for advertising-sales president Joe Abruzzese said
there were no pullouts at this point, and sponsor concerns would be handled on a
case-by-case basis.

Also, Discovery Times Channel maintained that its March 25 relaunch (from
Discovery Civilization Channel) will happen with commercials and some charter
advertisers in place. Officials declined to name the charter
sponsors.

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