Syndication's entertainment magazines are busily gearing up for the event of the decade. It isn’t the Oscars, a scandalous celebrity break-up or anything to do with Charlie Sheen. It isn’t even happening in Hollywood.
It’s the royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, and it’s taking place in London on Friday, April 29.
“This will be the most-watched television event in history,” says Linda Bell Blue, executive producer of CBS Television Distribution’s Entertainment Tonight and The Insider. “This is going to out-do the Super Bowl.”
“You do these shows for economic reasons,” says Rob Silverstein, executive producer of NBC Universal’s Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live. “Every time you do a story on the royals, it does well in the ratings.”
The big four entertainment-focused syndie mags—ET, The Insider, Access Hollywood and Extra—have spent weeks prepping to cover the happy event. Producers have flown over to London to check out the venues and have sought out the most connected insiders to comment on all the parties and parades.
ET and The Insider have secured two popular British actresses to help the sister shows get the dishiest scoop. Jane Seymour, a close friend of ET host Mary Hart, will serve as the show’s special correspondent, while Sharon Osbourne will take a break from CBS’ The Talk to work with The Insider. Both shows will start broadcasting from London on Friday, April 18 and will stay in town until May 2 or 3.
“Jane knows the royal family, she knows the queen and she’s an officer of the Order of the British Empire,” says Bell Blue. “Jane’s already talked to Prince William’s private secretary, and she’s been approved to talk to a few people that William is close to.”
Osbourne will be providing a bit more of a down-and-dirty look at London in the days leading up to the nuptials. “Man, is she a hoot,” says Bell Blue. “She knows everybody. She’ll take us around London. We’ll go pubcrawling with her.”
One of the biggest parties of the week will take place at the Hansom Cab, a pub that CNN’s Piers Morgan bought in December with his wife, Celia Walden. All four of the magazine shows plan to spend some time at Piers’ pub, although only Extra will have Walden on board as a correspondent.
Also joining Mario Lopez, who already has an invitation to go drinking with Morgan, will be Darren Lyons, who is referred to as Mr. Paparazzi because he’s been taking tricky shots of British celebs for years. “He’s known the boys since they were kids and he knew Princess Diana,” says Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey, Extra senior executive producer.
Extra will also work with Simon Cowell’s ex, Teri Seymour, along with having occasional chats with Simon himself. And while most of the official coverage will happen at designated press sites at Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, Extra will host a more casual set at Trafalgar Square, much like what the show does at Los Angeles’ The Grove shopping complex.
NBC Universal’s Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live are packing up to cover the event, although those two shows plan to focus mostly on Kate. “Who cares about the groom when you have a bride like that?” Silverstein says.
Billy Bush and Kit Hoover, cohosts of Access Hollywood Live, will do a daily live show in London during the week before the wedding. Access Hollywood is also tapping the expertise of former NBC correspondent Tim Vincent, who now lives in London.
American audiences may be even more excited about Kate and William’s big day than the Brits themselves, says Extra’s Gregorisch-Dempsey: “Everybody over here is talking about the royal wedding— nobody in London is really talking about it,” Gregorisch-Dempsey says. “They are more interested in the way Americans are going to cover it. I mean, it’s not Diana.”
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