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Preshows tune up for red-carpet race

E! ready with Jones-Reynolds as Rivers flow at TV Guide

The pre-Oscar-show pressure parades down the red carpet on Feb. 27 as no fewer than five broadcast outlets jockey for position and sound bites.

The biggest change this year will be red-carpet pioneers Joan and Melissa Rivers, who spearheaded the preshow hoopla for 10 years on cabler E!, hosting their first Oscars preshow on the TV Guide Channel. That leaves E! to play up its new topliner, “The View” co-host Star Jones-Reynolds .

E!’s Golden Globes preshow co-host, Kathy Griffin, whose questions and comments drew criticism from many quarters, won’t be back. E! will air 10 hours of preshow coverage in all, starting with “Live Countdown: The Academy Awards,” featuring commentary from the cabler’s stable of personalities from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. PST.

Jones-Reynolds takes front and center at 3 p.m. for a two-hour gabfest prior to the kudocast, and returns for two more hours once the last trophy is handed out. For the second year in a row, E! will broadcast on the INHD channel, making it this year’s only high-definition offering.

The Oscars preshow is a staple for E! and contributes to the cabler’s highest-rated day of the year. Last year’s edition drew the program’s largest aud, with nearly 8 million viewers.

Ratings have been down this year for kudoscasts including the Globes. Preshow coverage of the Globes saw a slight decline for E! from the previous year, but it still doubled that of TV Guide Channel.

The Rivers duo marked its debut on TV Guide Channel at last month’s Golden Globes, though it wasn’t without its glitches as Joan more than once had to be reminded who she was talking to. Their Oscars preshow will play out in two parts, with the previously aired “Guide to the Academy Awards” at 2 p.m. PST followed by “Joan & Melissa Live at the Academy Awards,” which will broadcast live to both coasts from 3-5 p.m. PST.

ABC, which will air the official awards ceremony, starts its coverage from the El Capitan Theater with a syndicated two-hour preshow featuring critics Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper. An ABC spokesperson says fashion designer Randolph Duke will be on hand for red-carpet commentary.

That will be followed at 5 p.m. by the half-hour official network preshow, hosted by Billy Bush and Shaun Robinson of “Access Hollywood,” Jann Carl of “Entertainment Tonight” and ESPN and “20/20” contributor Chris Connelly.

“We stick to the heart and soul of what this is all about: the Oscars,” says an ABC exec. “The Academy Awards is the Super Bowl of all entertainment industry events. We are merely the sideline reporters, on hand to cover the game.”

Also in the mix is local broadcaster KTLA, which will present an overview of the nominated films and performances hosted by Sam Rubin and Toni Senecal from 3-5 p.m. PST. The show will be syndicated to 13 stations across country, mainly Tribune stations, including outlets in Chicago and New York City.

KTLA will also bring back their limo-camera feature, which follows one nominee as he or she prepares for the show. That nominee has yet to be determined.

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