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With Oscars, awards calendar waltzes up

The glare of the Academy Awards casts a long shadow, so news that the 2004 edition of the show will be moved up one month has the Grammys and other trophy shows shuffling around the broadcast calendar to get some distance from the premier gala.

Instead of late March, the Oscars will be on February 29, 2004, a move that plops the show down right in the traditional timing territory of the music world’s Grammy Awards. To get some elbow room, the Grammys are moving up themselves, going to early February.

Billboard reports the date as February 8, but the show’s organisers said plans have not been finalised. They also would not confirm that the show is returning to Los Angeles, although sources close to the show say it will be staged at the Staples Center after visiting New York in February.

The Grammys’ geographic site doesn’t matter to the producers of the rival American Music Awards, but its calendar location likely does. The new Grammy date is far closer to the usual mid-January slot held by the American Music Awards, so that gala will be jumping all the way back to November.

The AMA’s producer, Dick Clark, said on Tuesday the move was “not unexpected, nor unwelcome” and gets the AMAs out of “award shows clutter”.

The Oscars switch was made for several reasons, among them sagging ratings and a perception by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences that other awards shows, such as the Golden Globes, were cutting into its prestige with their earlier calendar spots. Next year, the show’s nominations will be announced in late January, as opposed to mid-February.

The move by the Oscars has had the same effect as a sumo wrestler stepping into a crowded elevator — everybody else on board is taking steps to make room.

The Golden Globes will likely move their mid-January show up one week and the Screen Actors Guild will spring from March to February 23. The British Academy of Film & Television Arts will scoot up to February 8, two weeks earlier than usual.

To Thomas O’Neil, author of several books on the history of awards shows, no envelopes need be opened to identify the winners and losers amid all the rescheduling.

“The Screen Actors Guild awards and other (film) shows will now be dwarfed among the giants, which are the Oscars and the Grammys,” O’Neil said. He said the Grammys executed “a shrewd move by moving smack dab between the Golden Globes and the Oscars”. The Grammys will also have an intriguing calendar spot vis-a-vis the Super Bowl, which is also on CBS, one week prior to the music gala.

The massive sporting event provides a powerful promotional vehicle for advertisements or other promotion of the music show coming on its cleat heels. Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, was travelling on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

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