Date: 18th March 2003

The Show Must Go On

Organisers of the Academy Awards have dismissed speculation in Hollywood that this year's Oscars ceremony could be delayed due to imminent war with Iraq.

"The Academy Awards are scheduled to proceed Sunday the 23rd at 5.30pm (12.30pm Monday AEDT)," said Gil Cates, the producer of the event.

But he added that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was closely following developments and was awaiting a planned televised statement on Iraq by President George W. Bush.

"We, like everyone else, will be glued to the set for President Bush's speech tonight (noon AEDT)," he said today.

Bush is expected to give Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein a final ultimatum to quit Iraq or face US-led military action.

Organisers have repeatedly vowed that the Oscars show must go on, but rumours and some news reports have spoken of possible plans for a postponement if the United States is at war with Iraq.

Cinema's highest honours have been delayed just three times before in history - never because of war.

A one-week delay was forced by floods in Los Angeles in 1938, while the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr forced a two-day delay in 1968.

A one-day postponement to the ceremony was caused in 1981 by a bid to kill president Ronald Reagan.

Cates said last week the glittering show, which is watched by TV viewers around the world, would go ahead with or without war, but added that any conflict would be reflected in its format.

"I think the Oscars will absolutely go ahead on March 23 as scheduled," he said.

He insisted Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, the venue of 75th annual Oscars, was a "safe environment" for the expected 3500 guests, including top movie stars, but admitted he was also planning for the worst should it arise.

"I'm contingencied up the gazoo," the veteran producer told reporters.

Agence France-Presse

Source: Press Release