Last year, ABC screwed with tradition and told us that the annual Barbara Walters Oscar special would NOT be airing on Oscar night so they could do expanded red carpet and all that pre-show crap. The traditional kiss-and-cry interviews with Oscar nominees and famous legends was going to be shunted to a weeknight days before the actual ceremony. I, for one, was aghast. Were they really so peeved by the tiny inroads of the TV Guide channel and others who screened the Red Carpet feed that they would mess with Oscar tradition, dump a highly rated broadcast and take away a plum spotlight on one of their big and expensive stars?
Then a few weeks ago we found out that OPRAH would be doing a prime-time Oscar special just like Barbara Walters and it would air on February 22. In a twist, it pairs off stars with one another, so Julia Roberts chose to chat with George Clooney, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe have a bite to eat and Jamie Foxx meets with the august Sidney Poitier (who should send Oprah a kickback: she also picked his autobiography for her next book club). It's unclear to me whether Oprah will mediate or just intro the pieces.
What the hell was going on with Barbara Walters? Well, apparently she pushed back and said "Not on my watch" or someone came to their senses because her special is back on Oscar night where it belongs, at 7 p.m. before the show on the East Coast and right after the Oscars on the West Coast. Her guests are Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson, Helen Mirren and host Ellen Degeneres. And all is right with the world.
By the way, everyone is now saying that BABEL will win Best Picture.