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Can the Oscars save CNN?

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It seems that everybody is benefiting from the Oscar season…film festivals, awards shows, broadcast and cable TV networks, entertainment magazines and websites.
So, can the Oscars save ratings starved CNN?

The cable news channel has seen its ratings languishing for some time now.
As Mediate recently reported, “On Valentine’s Day Friday night, CNN’s evening slate of shows had a disastrous night, failing to rate above 66K viewers in the key 25-54 demo from 5-10 p.m. ET. The network was in 4th place across the board during those hours with Anderson Cooper 360 and Piers Morgan Live both at 66K in the demo. Erin Burnett OutFront at 7 p.m. drew just 49K in the demo.”

We’re not saying one is related to the other, but on Wednesday, CNN announced it was kicking off a number of Oscar-related telecasts leading up to the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, March 2.

On Thursday at 10 p.m. ET, Krista Smith, senior west coast editor of Vanity Fair and a CNN contributor, will host CNN Spotlight: And the Nominees Are? The hour-long show will feature Smith’s interviews with Oscar nominees Amy Adams, Jared Leto, Lupita Nyong’o and Jonah Hill.

Among the revelations Smith unearths:
“Amy Adams reveals that when she signed on to work with David O. Russell again for American Hustle, they didn’t have a script until like a week before,” a press release touting the show states.

The release goes on: “…Jared Leto tells Smith that he stayed in the Dallas Buyers Club character Rayon while filming: ‘I was walking through Whole Foods and I got looks from people and it was a real look of condemnation, of judgment, of disgust. And that was powerful to get to understand. Because I’m sure Rayon and the Rayons of the world get that look all the time—and have to deal with that in a much more real way than I did.”

On Thursday, Feb. 27, at 9 p.m. ET, the cable network will telecast CNN: And the Oscar Goes To? a two-hour special from Turner Classic Movies featuring great moments from 85 years of Academy Awards ceremonies, including never before seen behind-the-scenes ceremony footage from the archives of Hollywood Newsreel.

From Feb. 27 to March 2, CNN will “air live reports, interviews and take an inside at all the big events in and around the industry’s crowning event. From the rolling out of the red carpet to the behind-the-scenes stories of the nominated films and stars. CNN Entertainment Correspondent Nischelle Turner reports on how Hollywood gears up for, and celebrates its biggest night of the year.”

On Friday, Feb. 28, at 10 p.m. ET, the cable network will air CNN Spotlight: Matthew McConaughey, focusing on the best actor nominee from Dallas Buyers Club. “CNN’s Nischelle Turner will take viewers back to the actor’s Texas roots where an unlikely film student lands his first role and rides with him through his roller coaster career,” the press release states.

Then on Oscar night, Piers Morgan will be live on the red carpet at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater along with Nischelle Turner and Isaac Mizrahi. “At midnight ET, Morgan will host And the Winner is…A Pier Morgan Live Special from inside Hollywood’s famous Roosevelt Hotel. The special will feature celebrity interviews and an up close look at all the memorable moments from Hollywood’s biggest night of the year.”

If that isn’t enough, the press release continues, “CNN.com will feature interactive live Oscar coverage from the red carpet to backstage with the winners. On the CNN homepage, users can participate in the conversation on the Oscars live blog, and follow @CNNShowbiz on Twitter for additional social and video content. Leading up to the show, users can make their picks on who should take home the gold statues on CNN’s Oscar ballot and keep up with who has won awards so far this season on the Awards Tracker.

Also, online will be original features, along with photo galleries of all the Academy’s best films, actors and actresses through the years.”

To be sure, CNN is not alone in it’s saturation coverage of the Academy Awards. But we are almost out of breath reading through all of this.

Cut to commercial.

About Robert W. Welkos

Executive Editor: Robert W. Welkos is an award-winning journalist who covered the entertainment industry for 15 years as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times. During this span, he wrote extensively about the movie industry from turmoil in the executive suites, the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, and box office hits and bombs to visits to movie sets as well as profiles of top stars and A-list directors, cutting edge features on the newest indie films and visits to famous film festivals like Sundance and Cannes. Prior to entertainment, Welkos worked as a reporter and assistant city editor in The Times’ Metro section where he undertook major investigations for the paper as well as covering breaking news and writing in-depth features. Before joining The Times, he worked for the Associated Press in Reno, Nevada, and City News Service in Los Angeles.

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