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ABC Moves Walters Oscar Special
Barbara Walters interviewing celebrities on Oscar night is almost as much of an Academy Awards tradition as weeping starlets and shout-outs to agents. Walters will do the special again this year, but it won’t air the same night as the Oscar ceremony.
Instead, ABC says Walters’ special will air Wednesday, March 1, four days before the 78th annual Academy Awards. The move comes in part because the network will begin the Oscar telecast at 8 p.m. ET, rather than 8:30 as in past years. That means red-carpet coverage will begin in the 7 p.m. hour, the time when Walters’ show usually airs to the eastern half of the country (it followed the awards out West).
And, in a win-win for ABC, March 1 is also the final night of February sweeps, giving the network one final stab at bigger ratings in the period.
“We’ve been wanting to expand the celebration of the Oscars for some time, and moving Barbara’s special to Wednesday as part of our strategy for the February sweep makes it the true national kickoff event for the awards broadcast,” says Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment. “Her specials are always star studded and glamorous — now they’ll signal that even more is on the way.”
Walters is okay with the change too, saying she’s “very pleased” the show will air in the same timeslot across the country. “And being seen earlier in the week gives us much more flexibility than in the past in terms of guests.”
A lineup of guests will be announced in the coming weeks.