Your guide to watching the royal wedding

April 27, 2011

English king-in-waiting Prince William and lovely commoner Kate Middleton will finally tie the knot on Friday. The ceremony will air at 6 a.m. on a bajillion news networks, although coverage will start even earlier.

With so many networks vying for your attention, The Washington Post’s Emily Yahr thought it would be nice to help you decide which to watch, based on what, exactly, you want to get out of this most momentous occasion.

Made out with the best man

Bravo

So many royal wedding commentators — but how many can say they made out with Prince Harry, the best man? Cat Ommanney of “The Real Housewives of D.C.,” that’s who! The night before the wedding, at 11, she joins Bravo programming exec/talk show star Andy Cohen for “Watch What Happens Live: Royal Wedding Spectacular.”

Most Martin Bashir coverage

MSNBC, 3 to 11 a.m.

Martin Bashir (you know, the British journalist who famously did those interviews with Michael Jackson that got the singer into so much trouble and ABC such stupendous ratings) is the reason to watch this network at this supremely early hour.

Commercial -free coverage in proper British accents

BBC America, 3 to 8:30 a.m. (WETA and MPT will air the same coverage)

Simulcasting the BBC’s official coverage, these are the channels you want to turn to if you actually want to, you know, learn something. BBC reporter Huw Edwards anchors the commentary and all the big scenes of the day.

Most cheesetastic

E!, 4 to 9 a.m.

Giuliana Rancic freaks out when George Clooney strolls down a red carpet, so when she’s in the presence of actual royalty, it’s anybody’s bet. Rancic is being joined by a slew of E! reporters and contributor Louise Roe, whom you may remember as the host of CW’s creeptastic, and deservedly short-lived, makeover series, “Plain Jane.” E! will then turn things over to the great Joan Rivers, who will judge all the fancy dresses and hats on “Fashion Police: Royal Wedding,” at 10 p.m. along with special guest star Tori Spelling, who, E! insists, has a right to weigh in because she’s “American TV royalty.” Yes, they really do.

TLC, 5 to 9 a.m.

Staples of the royal wedding: class, elegance and, obviously, Jumbotrons. Silver Spring-based TLC has been gorging on pre-wedding coverage with royal-themed specials, including a Very Special episode of the antiques-store series “What the Sell?!” that looked at royal lingerie from the Victorian era. TLC will continue to specialize in embracing all things gaudy on The Big Day, when “Say Yes to the Dress” fashion director Randy Fenoli hosts a viewing party in Times Square, where the network will show pre-wedding coverage and the live ceremony on the ginormous Jumbotron screens.

Most dishy

ABC, 4 to 10 a.m.

ABC snagged Newsweek-Daily Beast chief Tina Brown, who penned the controversial “The Diana Chronicles” in 2007 with juicy details of William’s parents’ relationship.

Fox News Channel, 4 to 8 a.m.

Not to be outdone, Fox News Channel has enlisted the help of Princess Di’s former butler, Paul Burrell. Burrell, you’ll recall, was tried — and acquitted — over accusations that he stole Diana’s possessions, according to multiple press reports at that time. Burrell also wrote a tell-all book spilling lots of alleged secrets about his time with the royal family.

En Espanol

Univision, starting at 3 a.m.

Vme, starting at 5:30 a.m.

Telemundo, starting at 6 a.m.

The Spanish-language networks are all jumping into the fray.

Katie Couric’s last hurrah

CBS, 5 to 9 a.m.

Thanks to the non-news that broke earlier this week, we now officially know this will be the last ginormous event coverage Katie Couric will undertake as anchor of the “CBS Evening News.” Co-anchor Erica Hill will be at Buckingham Palace, but this is The Couric Show — she’ll also host the one-hour orgy of informational excess, “The Royal Wedding: Modern Majesty” at 8 p.m. Friday.

Internecine nuttiness

NBC, 4 to 10 a.m.

Matt Lauer has one foot out the door. Meredith Vieira has two feet out the door. Ann Curry wants to fill the void where Meredith’s feet were. Watch the whole dysfunctional “Today” family cover the royal wedding — and Brian Williams, too! Also, look for a two-hour “insta-documentary” about the wedding day on “Dateline” at 9 p.m. Friday, reported by Curry.

Keeping them honest

CNN, starting at 4 a.m.

Anderson Cooper probably won’t get to wear his trademark on-assignment costume — black T-shirt and black jeans — when he co-anchors CNN’s coverage with Piers Morgan, but we know he’ll keep the royal family honest on Friday.

‘Glee’ vs. ‘The Voice’

Fox’s campaign to crush NBC’s new singing competition series, “The Voice,” with a super-sized, Lady Gaga-ized episode of “Glee,” flopped Tuesday night.

Instead of puncturing a hole in the “Voice” premiere, “Glee” wound up limping in with its weakest ratings performance since late 2009, while “The Voice” ran past it and took a victory lap.

Nearly 12 million people watched the highly hyped unveiling of NBC’s new reality series, in which celebrity judges Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine picked teams of singing-star wannabes who will compete for a recording contract in the coming weeks. Among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers who are the bread and butter of the broadcast TV business, “The Voice” scored a 5.1 rating, the best showing for a series premiere on ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox since CBS launched its reality series “Undercover Boss” immediately after the Super Bowl in February 2010. NBC has been averaging 7.4 million viewers in the Tuesday two-hour block this season.

“Glee,” meanwhile clocked an average of just 8.6 million people, its smallest audience since December 2009. Among the coveted demographic, “Glee” suffered its smallest ratings since November 2009.

Fox — which naturally would like viewers not to get attached to “The Voice” when it’s got Simon Cowell’s coming singing-competition series, “The X Factor,” on the horizon — had decided to super-size Tuesday’s “Glee” episode so that the critical first half-hour of “The Voice” would go head to head with the final 30 minutes of “Glee.” In honor of the occasion, “Glee” would cough up a second Lady Gaga episode — or at least one that was billed as “ ‘Glee’ goes Gaga again,” although the episode featured just one Gaga number in its final minutes.

About 24 hours before Nielsen issued early-Tuesday numbers, NBC suits were pretty tense about Fox’s plan. “Glee” ’s first Lady Gaga episode, “Theatricality,” clocked 12 million viewers in May, on the same night as the final “American Idol” performance episode of that season. It had featured two lavish production numbers set to Gaga tunes “Bad Romance” and “Poker Face.”

NBC sucker-punched Cowell and Fox in December when it announced it had bought U.S. rights to “The Voice” format and would rush it on to the air this spring. Cowell and Fox had, for more than a year, been behaving like his “The X Factor” was the only “American Idol” competition on the horizon and had been moving at a snail’s pace to get his show launched — but not until this fall.

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