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Prodigy, Comedy ‘crash’ Oscars

The Academy Awards are about to take a spin on the information superhighway.

Cable’s Comedy Central and Prodigy, the nation’s largest online service, are teaming to skewer the awards ceremony.

Cable subscribers bored by ABC’s Oscar coverage can sample a bit of cyber-humor and escape the Academy staunch for raunch by tuning to Comedy Central’s “Not the Academy Awards” telecast.

In order to provide fodder for the program, Comedy Central and Prodigy began a “Not the Academy Awards Computer Poll” Wednesday asking cyberspacers to vote on some alternative Oscars.

Included in the poll’s 10 offbeat categories are “Best Skinematography” (“Sliver and “Short Cuts” are among the nominees), “Premature Excitation” (for the film that failed to deliver on its trailer promise), “What’s Eating Steven Spielberg” and “Making Whoopi” (vote on what outfit the host should wear).

One particularly tasteless entry queries Prodigy-ites to pick a drama to turn into a musical (the nominees are “Philadelphia,””Schindler’s List,” and “Alive”). Another suggests that “The Age of Innocence” would have been a better title for a movie about Michael Jackson.

Results of the joint poll will be unveiled during Comedy Central’s live Oscar “party crashing” telecast, which, like ABC’s straightforward coverage, will air Monday from 9 p.m. to midnight Eastern time.

This marks the first time that Prodigy has conducted a poll with a TV network. The online service has conducted 300 such polls on its own.

CompuServe, Prodigy’s chief rival, will also offer its members online backstage coverage from the Oscars, hiring syndicated columnist Staci Jenel Smith to report live from the press room with CompuServe’s regular entertainment correspondent, Michael Bolanos.

The two will field questions from CompuServe members to use in their own interviews with Oscar winners and other Hollywood celebrities, instantly sending answers and commentary to Compuserve’s “Convention Center.”

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