Red Carpet or Not, Joan Will Be There

03/18/2003 at 01:00 PM EST

The Oscar festivities were dampened a little bit more Wednesday as ABC pulled the plug on Barbara Walters's annual interview special, the Associated Press reports.

But nothing -- not even a war -- is going to stop motormouth fashion critic Joan Rivers and daughter Melissa from appearing on E!'s Oscar preshow.

In deference to the looming war in Iraq, the Academy Awards are quickly moving from celebration to duty for many attendees. On Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences vowed to move ahead with the ceremony, but nixed the traditional red carpet entrance for stars.

ABC said postponing the Walters special makes sense because war coverage would take precedence over her segments -- and could even interrupt the ceremony itself. "With such serious issues facing the nation, it was the right decision to postpone the special," Walters said in a statement.

"Chicago" star and Best Actress nominee Renee Zellweger, "Far From Heaven" and "The Hours" nominee Julianne Moore, and "Adaptation" Best Actor contender Nicolas Cage were all scheduled to appear during the special.

E! Entertainment is taking the opposite tack, says the Hollywood Reporter. The cable network is forging ahead with its Oscar coverage, beginning at 6 p.m. ET. On the frontlines of that event: Joan and Melissa.

Although the red carpet will be rolled up, the pair is still hoping to conduct preshow interviews, speaking to the stars in special media rooms if necessary.

"You've got the biggest day in the entertainment industry, and it's going to be very quiet," E! executive Mark Sonnenberg tells the trade paper.

Nonetheless, the network does plan to honor the nation's somber mood, forgoing the preshow's usual outrageous attitude. "We'll take our tone from the Academy," Sonnenberg adds.

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