E! network finds itself this week doing major damage control over its whole Kim Kardashian made-for-TV wedding nightmare.
In case you’ve been living under a flat rock: There is a fury in the Twittersphere - and among The Reporters Who Cover Television - that the network was in cahoots with its brightest star and that the Kardashian family put over some serious oompus boompus on the American public with “Kim’s Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event.”
“Any insinuation that E! and producers orchestrated Kim’s wedding is completely false,” E! said this week. “The Kardashians have authentically lived their lives on camera for a long time and Kim’s wedding is one of the many real-life events that the family has shared with viewers, from Mason’s birth to coping with their father’s death to Khloe and Lamar’s wedding.
In round numbers: Kim Kardashian’s marriage to NBA player Kris Humphries began with a lavish (some report it cost $10 million) wedding Aug. 20 and lasted just 72 days.
That was just long enough for E! to produce, and hang on to, a two-night, four-hour special. E! held the special until Oct.9 and 10, so as to coincide with the season finale of Season 6 of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
When Part 1 ran Sunday, Oct. 9, at 8 p.m., it snagged an average of 4.4 million viewers. That day was the highest rated in E! history. The unveiling of Part 2 of the orgy-of-excess wedding special did nearly as well, logging an average of 4 million viewers.
In all, E! ran 32 hours of Kim Kardashian wedding coverage that week.
On Oct. 31, Kim filed for divorce, rather than an annulment, which surprised some reporters. Were we a cynic, we might suggest that’s because “Kim’s Nightmare Divorce: A Kardashian Event” is a much sexier name for the next four-hour TV special than “Kim’s Nightmare Annulment.”
Kardashian came under so much attack after filing for divorce she felt compelled to issue a statement insisting she had married for love, not ratings. But she conceded that she may have ignored early warning signs because she hadn’t wanted to disappoint people.
E!, meanwhile, did what E! does best: opportunistic scheduling.
Remember when Amy Winehouse died and E! dusted off its “True Hollywood Story” on her and slapped it on the air again ASAP? And, when E! did the same with “True Hollywood Story: Arnold & Maria” when Maria Shriver filed for divorce from Arnold Schwarzenegger? It’s kind of like that.
In this case, E! moved up the umpteenth rerun play of the Kardashian wedding, which had been scheduled to run Wednesday and Thursday nights of this week, to instead move them up so as to run Monday and Tuesday nights. This is called “reacting to the news” and E! doesn’t have the monopoly on this programming strategy. Ever notice how, when some old movie star dies, networks dust off their “Biography” on the guy or their newsmagazine interview with the guy of a few years back, or they blow out their schedule to make way for a Dead Guy Movie Marathon?
But Tuesday afternoon, after airing Monday night’s rerun of Part 1, E! suddenly changed its mind and decided to leave Part 2 where it was originally scheduled, on Thursday night.
Some members of the press took this to mean E! had succumbed to pressure from the Kardashian family, their exec - and E! BFF Ryan Seacrest - or suddenly grown a conscience.
Of course, another theory - we’re just throwing this out for your consideration - is that ratings for Monday night come out on Tuesday afternoon, so that’s right about the time E! suits would have learned that Part 1 only logged 270,000 viewers. That’s probably because the Comcast-owned network had no time to promote the scheduling change, and maybe also because Halloween night is an important night of revelry for Kardashian fanatics.
Despite this apparent mea culpa, some members of the press and the Twittersphere were not satisfied and continued to bash E! for, as the New York Times put it, “the wedding special’s continuing to run after the marriage was off,” like E! was perpetrating some kind of outrage.