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Nervous Oscars keep fingers crossed

Los Angeles, Feb. 28 (Reuters): Hollywood is putting the final touches on its annual Oscar extravaganza while wondering whether one of the ritziest shows on earth will go on.

The ballots have been mailed, the gowns are being fitted and the golden statuettes have been cast for the March 23 Oscar ceremony — around the time many analysts believe the US and its allies could be at war with Iraq.

The unspoken “What if'” dilemma facing Hollywood is whether war will wait until after the Oscar red carpet is rolled out, and whether the curtain will go up if it does not.

“It is mind-boggling enough to put the thing on in the first place,” said Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spokesman John Pavlik. “There’s not a whole lot of advantage in trying to plan for every conceivable scenario and whether to cancel or postpone.”

“Did the war start three weeks ago' Did it start today' Did we win already' Or are we smack in the middle of some bloody thing' We’ll do whatever looks like the right thing to do, but there’s no way to plan for this,” Pavlik told Reuters.

The Oscar ceremony, the movie industry’s most prestigious event, has been postponed on only a handful of occasions in its 75-year-long history, none of them to do with the outbreak of war — after a 1938 flood in Los Angeles, after the April 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King and after the March 1981 shooting of President Ronald Reagan.

Taking months of preparation and drawing a worldwide television audience of 1 billion, the star-studded night of glamour and glad-handing is unlikely to be cancelled or postponed.

The ceremony is to air on the ABC television network, a unit of The Walt Disney Co. But the wrong decision could provoke a backlash — not just in the US but in the eyes of a world already critical of American isolationism.

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