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Sunday officially Oscar’s

Awards get weekend berth for first time in decade

If it’s the Oscar show, it must be Sunday.

That’s the decree of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, in an announcement that had been expected for months (Daily Variety, Feb. 10).

Next March 21, the Oscars will be presented on a day other than Monday for the first time in a decade, and it will be the first time ever that Hollywood’s biggest night will be staged on a Sunday.

The 71st annual Academy Awards show, honoring this year’s movies, will take place at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center and will be broadcast live by ABC beginning at 5:30 p.m. (PST), Academy president Robert Rehme said Thursday.

The show will be produced by the Academy for the second consecutive year, and not by ABC. The decision to produce the event in-house was prompted earlier this year by the failure of the net to reach a contract agreement with the National Assn. of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians. The union disrupted at least one live ABC broadcast and had threatened to do so again during the Oscars.

“At that time, we decided to continue doing it ourselves from now on,” said Academy spokesman John Pavlik. “There was the union problem that got us to do it the first time, but still it’s nice to have total control over what’s in the show.”

The Academy negotiated a new contract with ABC that called for the net to broadcast — but not produce — the show through 2008. The Academy will hire its own tech crews and camera operators and will present a finished feed to the network.

Next year, a new half-hour pre-show will be broadcast nationwide starting at 5 p.m. It will include not only red-carpet arrivals but will take advantage of access to the lobby, backstage and the auditorium, areas not available to other, non-ABC pre-shows. The show also may avail itself of the Academy’s archives of past Oscar presentations, Rehme said.

Oscars have been presented on Mondays 32 times since the shows began in 1929, on Thursdays 21 times, Wednesdays eight and Tuesdays six. The Academy Awards have been held twice on Fridays and once on a Saturday, in 1948.

The 1999 presentation could be the last to be held at the Chandler Pavilion. The show is scheduled for the Shrine Auditorium again in 2000 and for a new theater in Hollywood in 2001 — provided construction is finished.

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