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Want to watch Obama's opening inaugural festivities? Better get HBO

By Jimmy Orr / January 7, 2009

Jake Turcotte

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Hey, the Sopranos were wildly successful. Why not the Obamas?

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Well, that's kinda what's happening. Sorta.

HBO

HBO has secured the rights to carry the opening ceremonies of the Barack Obama inaugural-palooza beginning on January 18.

Remember the 30 minute infomercial of Barack Obama last October? Just think of this programming extravaganza as the infomercial gone wild (without the bikinis). It's three times more Obama. 90 minutes in fact.

This doesn't mean that all 90 minutes will be non-stop Barack Obama, but the President-elect and the VP-elect (Joe Biden, by the way) are planning to attend -- which is a good thing.

Who's coming?

So how do you fill all 90 minutes of the celebratory opener? The details are still slight, but HBO is promising a bunch of big-time celebs for our viewing entertainment.

"We are honored to be broadcasting an event of this national significance featuring some of the leading talent from the music and entertainment industry," said Bill Nelson, Chairman & CEO, Home Box Office. "HBO is proud to work with all of our distributors to make this event accessible to as many citizens as possible."

But who's coming? Folks on the inside are tight-lipped about it. But People magazine is reporting that Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, and Bruce Springsteen have been approached.

Buttah

And what would the inaugural be without Barbra Streisand? After all, she and Obama were just like buttah last September when she held dual fundraisers for him to the tune of $9 million.

People mag says Barbra's been "approached" as well.

Not sayin'

The Obama folks aren't giving too many details either on who the presumed a-lister entertainers are yet. Just the typical stuff you'd expect to hear.

“The Presidential Inaugural Committee is committed to staging an Opening Celebration that reflects the best of our nation, and we are pleased that millions of people across the country will be able to share in this historic experience,” Emmett Beliveau, executive director of the inaugural committee, said in a statement.

No HBO?

For those who don't have HBO, there's good news --they're giving away their signal for free. But you gotta have cable or satellite. If you don't, you're out of luck. And that's got a lot of people in the blogosphere not very happy.

Take Lisa Derrick over at La Figa. She's not digging the HBO arrangement noting that up to 20 million people may be unable to view the spectacle.

"So much for inclusion," Derrick writes. "Millions of viewers will be left unable to watch the Opening Celebration for the 56th Presidential Inaugural."

Derrick calls the above HBO statement from Bill Nelson "repulsive".

If enough people are repulsed perhaps the Obama team and HBO can find a way to get the signal to those people who still get TV the old-fashioned way. We're guessing it'll happen.

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