E! rolls up red carpet on Rivers

Network cancels mother-daughter Emmy coverage

Can we talk? E! Entertainment Network has canceled its red-carpet and fashion coverage of the Emmys by Joan and Melissa Rivers.

And whether Joan is happy about that is a fashion Rashomon.

On Tuesday, Rivers told an E! colleague that she resigned from the cabler because she was upset over the way the network handled the decision to ax the preshow.

She told the colleague, who asked to remain anonymous, that she is worried the move could send the message to the industry that her show is merely about gushing over shoes and gowns.

John Rieber, senior VP of original programming at E!, said E! will do what it deems most appropriate and that Rivers agreed with the decision. He offered a “guarantee” that the words “I quit” (or anything close to that) did not come out of Rivers’ mouth Tuesday.

When reached by phone, Rivers declined to comment about the situation.

The fashion commentary by the mother-and-daughter pair has been a staple on the entertainment cabler’s coverage of its awards shows. But E! canceled the red-carpet segs, citing the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ move to hold a more somber, dressed-down telecast.

E! will carry seven hours of live pre- and post-show coverage Sunday, including a one-hour post show with Melissa Rivers and Todd Newton. In a press statement, E! Networks prez-CEO Mindy Herman said, “We eagerly await having Joan and Melissa back on the red carpet for the Golden Globes in January.”

In the statement, Joan Rivers is quoted as saying, “Melissa and I felt it would be inappropriate to take our traditional places on the red carpet this year.”

The Rivers’ colleague feels that their Emmy seg could have been different, but good.

“What Joan really does in between all of those air kisses and compliments about Versace is truly connecting with the stars. They’re having real gab,” the source said. “I think this could have been Joan’s finest hour, as well as E’s.”

Rieber added that he spoke to Rivers twice Tuesday. “Joan completely understands the reason it’s not appropriate. And she is absolutely here (with E!). She’ll be doing the Golden Hangers in December and the Golden Globes and all the other awards shows.

“We all feel — and I think Joan agrees — that people’s expectation of what Joan brings to the red carpet isn’t possible in this case. So why try?

“I have complete faith Joan can and has spoken to people about very tragic circumstances. But the Academy has decided everything is to be scaled back, everything be kept at a solemn, more news-focused approach. That calls for more traditional news coverage than try to turn Joan’s show into something it isn’t. It’s a celebration that’s not appropriate in this environment.”

As for the talk of Rivers’ resignation, Rieber told Daily Variety: “It’s a great story. And ‘Tale of Two Cities’ is a great story, but it, too, is fiction.”

(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)

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