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Spirits hit new highs

Crooners, global b'cast, bigger tent beef up kudos

MUSICAL TALENT

This year, the cheeky sing-alongs skewering the five best feature nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards will be sung by “people who can actually sing,” says the show’s exec producer, Diana Zahn-Storey.

Dwight Yoakam will take on “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada”; Macy Gray does “Capote”; Peter Gallagher has “Brokeback Mountain”; Zooey Deschanel and Alessandro Nivola sing for “The Squid and the Whale”; and Richard Kind croons for “Good Night, and Good Luck.”

MULTICABLE

This year, the Independent Spirit Awards will have a presence on three Rainbow Media-owned cable nets: AMC, IFC and WE: Women’s Entertainment. For the 10th year, IFC will be airing the show live. Broadcast starts Saturday at 2 p.m. Pacific time, with two rebroadcasts on Sunday and several others next week. For the first time, AMC, with a viewership of 87 million, will show a two-hour edited version of the show on Saturday night.

“It’s easily the most expansive TV coverage that the Spirit Awards has ever had,” says Rainbow Entertainment Services prexy Ed Carroll. A half-hour red-carpet show will air on WE at 1:30 p.m. Pacific.

WORLDWIDE

The Spirit Awards will be seen for the first time outside of North America. Spanning territories from Angola and Brazil to Trinidad and the Virgin Islands, the show was licensed to foreign broadcasters and satellite operators with distribution in more than 65 territories, including the U.K., Africa, continental Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

THE TENT

The show’s traditional circus-style tent will be replaced by a slightly deeper (140 feet) structured tent.

“The old tent just died,” says Zahn-Storey.

The upshot is there’s slightly more space and no pesky poles in the center of the tent blocking sightlines. The downside is that this new tent takes two additional days to set up.

“We now start (building) on Saturday,” says Zahn-Storey, who is on her 12th consecutive Spirits production. “The old tent goes up in one day — it was pure manpower, where you position the stakes and pull.” The new one requires three days, involving cranes to place the steel beam frame.

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