War or no war: US TV viewers want Oscars
Where on the one hand, celebrities and stars are feeling queasy about being seen on TV for the biggest annual show the Academy Awards this year, on the other, nearly 90 percent of US television viewers want the planned show to go on despite the war raging in Iraq, according to a poll. That Hollywood's biggest night could be derailed as a result of the same is a matter that few are worrying about.
The survey, conducted by online marketing firm New Media Strategies whose clients include top film studios, found that 87 percent of the 2,500 people polled wanted to see Tinseltown's highest honours being awarded. "This is a true testament to the American spirit," said the company's chief executive Pete Snyder in a statement.
"While nearly everyone is concerned about our troops, in post-September 11th America, people strongly feel that we all must continue living our lives. Our survey shows that the organizers' decision to go forward with the broadcast is right in step with American sentiment."
The survey was released on the day US forces launched their invasion of Iraq and just three days ahead of Sunday's Oscars ceremony which looks to be overshadowed by the pall of war. While organisers have vowed that the show, seen by up to a billion television viewers around the world, will go ahead as planned, they have not ruled out a possible delay or even cancellation if circumstances so dictate.
Already the red carpet that usually graces the entrance to the Academy Awards venue, Hollywood Kodak Theatre, has been rolled up and the usually glamorous arrivals ceremony cut back drastically. Stars will now be dropped off at the door to the theatre and reporters have been barred from photographing or interviewing stars before what will now be a far more sombre show.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is in talks with ABC television to determine whether the show – which has been televised for 50 years – will be broadcast this year or whether it will yield to war coverage. The awards, if they go ahead as planned, will be held under the tightest security ever amid fears of possible terror strikes in retaliation for the US military action in Iraq.
But the new survey indicated that viewers were about 30 times more concerned about "protest outbursts by celebrities" than they were about a "direct terrorist attack on the Kodak Theatre." Many celebrities winning Oscars are expected to use their acceptance speeches to speak out against the war which is largely unpopular in Hollywood.
Some 64 percent of the sample group polled said they were most concerned about stars' "outbursts," some 23 percent were worried about the show being interrupted for news updates, while just two percent said they were concerned about a "direct terror attack," the company said.
The Oscars have been held every year since 1929 and have only been delayed three times in the 75-year history.