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New York Times Will Stream Live Video Commentary During Oscars

Media Reporter David Carr and Film Critic A.O. Scott to Provide Live Banter

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If simply turning on ABC and watching the Oscars is not enough for you, fire up your iPad, laptop or smartphone at 7 p.m. Eastern on Sunday and head to nytimes.com/oscars. There you can see New York Times media columnist David Carr and Times chief film critic A.O. Scott quip about the festivities while playing with a remote control helicopter and being served pizza by Times CEO Mark Thompson.

"My only worry is that it's like three hours, and I don't want to be the first hot mic disaster at the Times," Carr said. "I don't know if I've ever made it three hours in my life without cussing."

David Carr
David Carr

Mr. Carr and Mr. Scott--and the Times, in general--are not looking to develop an alternative viewing experience to ABC's broadcast, but rather act as funny, well-informed guests at your Oscar party. As viewers increasingly turn to web-enabled devices to share and receive information contextual to appointment television--"second screening"--the Times is looking to capitalize on the trend Sunday night by offering supplementary coverage that will include live video from the Times office, red carpet photos, curated tweets and a live blog.

Tiffany & Co. and Chobani are the two sponsors for the Times's multimedia Oscars coverage.

Julie Bloom, an editor on the Times's culture desk, led the Oscar dashboard project and said that visitors will be able to open and close certain feeds depending on what coverage they desire. Visitors who have filled out Oscar ballots on the Times website will see their results updated in real-time, with the top scorer winning an iPad. Correspondingly, the dashboard is optimized for iOS devices. (Sorry, Android users.)

This is about more than just an iPad giveaway, though. While the Times has provided ancillary multimedia coverage for the presidential election and the Olympics, this is the first time Times reporters will be guiding web viewers through an entire broadcast.

Leading the journey will be Mr. Carr and Mr. Scott who co-star in the weekly cultural analysis web series "The Sweet Spot." The two will bring that show's banter, but instead of four and a half minutes, this will run three and a half hours. Filling in that expanse will involve Mr. Carr and Mr. Scott piloting a remote control helicopter--a nod to the Best Picture nominated "Zero Dark Thirty"--and wearing Abraham Lincoln beards (allusion obvious). Times culture reporters/funnymen Dave Itzkoff and Jon Caramanica will contribute to the live blog.

Mr. Carr and Mr. Scott hosted a similar show two years ago, but that was merely them chiming in during commercials. Last year, the two commented on the Oscars in front of a live audience at the Paley Center, an event Mr. Carr called a "disaster."

The live feed snapped, the venue ran out of food and the team had trouble catering a show to both a live and web audience.

It's back to headquarters this year, though, which will hopefully make it easier for the Times to simultaneously control the video stream, social stream and editorial stream the Oscar dashboard will include.

The Times has invested heavily in online video, but this and recent staffing changes suggest the legacy media giant is doubling down on that bet. Earlier in February, the Times hired Rebecca Howard away from The Huffington Post where she was the company's head of video development. As GM-video production at the Times, she will report directly to Times executive editor Jill Abramson.

Rick Berke, a longtime political reporter and editor for the Times, was recently promoted to senior editor and director of video content development. He too will report directly to Ms. Abramson, and a former colleague of his said he was promoted to ensure the journalistic quality of the news organization's video projects going forward.

As of now, the Times has declined to comment on whether it will launch a daily video news channel in the same vein as The Huffington Post's streaming video network HuffPost Live. Mr. Carr suggested that such a channel is not that far off, however.

"As a media reporter, I think it's inevitable that we're going to end up in a real-time way in the video business," he said.

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