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Katrina exerts subtle force on TV’s Emmy Awards

September 15, 2005

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Four years after the Emmy Awards
were twice postponed in the aftermath of the September 11
attacks, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina is exerting a far
more subtle force on U.S. television’s biggest night.

The three-hour live CBS broadcast is going on as planned on
Sunday from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles with no
special moment being set aside to contemplate the costliest
natural disaster in U.S. history.

But the show’s executive producer, Ken Ehrlich, said on
Thursday he expected Louisiana-born Emmy emcee Ellen DeGeneres,
who earned rave reviews as host of the post-9/11 show in 2001,
to acknowledge Katrina’s victims in her monologue at the start
of this year’s telecast.

The August 29 hurricane killed more than 700 people in the
U.S. Gulf Coast region and displaced 1 million.

Other performers appearing on the 57th Annual Primetime
Emmy Awards will likely mention the disaster as well. The
show’s celebrity presenters will be offered magnolias, the
state flower of storm-hit Louisiana and Mississippi, to wear as
corsages and boutonnieres during the show, Ehrlich said.

On-screen messages during the telecast will urge viewers to
direct their hurricane-relief donations to the charity
home-construction organization Habitat for Humanity.

Ehrlich said Katrina was also sure to resonate in a segment
of the show paying tribute to Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and the
late Peter Jennings, the longtime evening news anchors of the
Big Three broadcast networks — NBC, CBS and ABC.

In light of the widely praised coverage of Katrina and its
grim aftermath by broadcast journalists in recent weeks, “we
have a renewed sense of importance of what news is all about,”
Ehrlich said.

Brokaw and Rather, who both left their broadcasts within
the past year, are slated to take the Emmy stage together
following a montage of highlights from their careers and that
of Jennings, who died of lung cancer in August.

‘LITTLE BIT OF HEALING’

Plenty of lighter moments are planned, too, and Ehrlich
said that after three weeks of images of despair and
destruction from the Gulf Coast, he hoped a show like the Emmys
could offer the public “the beginning of a little bit of
healing.”

The Emmys are traditionally held each year in September to
honor the best of prime time and to kick off a new season of
shows.

In 2001, the telecast was delayed twice — after the 9/11
attacks and again when the U.S.-led bombing of Afghanistan
began. Many in Hollywood questioned whether the show should go
on at all that year, but organizers ultimately settled on a
toned-down ceremony in smaller quarters.

This year, the telecast will open with the veteran R&B
group Earth, Wind & Fire and the contemporary hip-hop ensemble
Black Eyed Peas teaming up to perform the Earth, Wind & Fire
hit “September,” to a backdrop of clips showing the most
memorable TV moments from this past season.

The show will also feature a tribute to the Fox network’s
smash hit talent contest “American Idol,” with several unlikely
celebrities singing some of their favorite TV theme songs.

Among them will be William Shatner, who now stars on ABC’s
courtroom drama “Boston Legal,” paired with opera star
Frederica von Stade for a duet on the theme to Shatner’s first
big TV show, “Star Trek.”

Real estate tycoon Donald Trump, star of NBC’s “The
Apprentice,” will join Megan Mullally from “Will & Grace” on a
rendition of the theme to the classic country comedy “Green
Acres.”




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