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Now here’s a first: Kathy Ireland has been forced to deny to People that she was drunk or otherwise inebriated while co-hosting ABC’s red-carpet arrivals program.

Having watched the half-hour I did find Ireland to be ludicrously enthusiastic and fawning, but no more so than co-hosts Sherri Shepherd and Jess Cagle (of Entertainment Weekly), Ryan Seacrest over on E!, Chris Harrison and Carrie Ann Inaba on TV Guide Network, or George Pennacchio on KABC-TV. Of course, before the ABC show I was simultaneously surfing the three other programs, but the prevailing sense was of celebrity-worshiping euphoria.

Actually, I’d feel a lot better if some of them were a little tipsy. The other explanation — that the mere experience of being in the presence of movie stars is enough to make Oscar red-carpet hosts behave like groupies, or the people who slept outside of Comic-Con so they wouldn’t miss the “Lost” panel — is more annoying.

Back when Roger Ebert used to appear on KABC locally interviewing arrivals, the talk focused on movies. Today, the fleeting exchanges never seem to get past “Who are you wearing?” and “Omigod! Do you realize how fabulous you are?”

I had this argument with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush on his radio show after the Golden Globes. Bush took issue with my review, in which I accused him of “irritating giddiness.” When I asked why the conversation couldn’t at least briefly brush upon the movies that the stars were there to celebrate and promote, he essentially said the red carpet is not the place for that.

In other words, a movie awards show is no place to waste precious ass-kissing time talking about movies.

And we wonder why kids can’t read anymore.