Idiot Box: We’ve Got Big Balls

Inauguration Around The Dial

Devin D. O'Leary
3 min read
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Back in November, our nation watched eagerly as Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election. So why wouldn’t we be there for him again, channel-surfing as he’s sworn in as the 44 th President of the United States this coming Tuesday? And while we’re at it, why not get the party started early?

On Sunday, Jan. 18, HBO will air a special “inaugural kickoff” from the steps of Lincoln Memorial.
“We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial” (HBO-P/HBO-HD 8 p.m.) gets us in the 2009 mood with an ambitious titular pronouncement and some star-powered praise. A wide range of guests–from Barbra Streisand to Beyoncé to Stevie Wonder to Bruce Springsteen–have been invited to perform.

On Monday, Jan. 19, Disney Channel will air
“Kids’ Inaugural: We Are the Future” (Disney 9 p.m.) . It’s a concert honoring military families. Michelle Obama and Jill Biden are the guests of honor. The concert will be simulcast on Radio Disney. Does this mean Obama’s girls finally get to meet the Jonas Brothers?

The night of the inauguration–Tuesday, Jan. 20–is a happening one. Obama gets sworn in during the day, then party-hops all night long, making appearances at the 10 (count ’em–10!) presidential balls. ABC, which is already devoting nearly its entire broadcast day to inaugural goings-on, nabs exclusive rights to the night’s “premier event,” the Neighborhood Ball. Most balls are exclusive parties open only to dignitaries and donors. At Obama’s insistence, tickets for the Neighborhood Ball, being held at Washington Convention Center, were distributed free or at a reduced price to Washington D.C. residents.
“The Neighborhood Ball: An Inauguration Celebration” (KOAT-7 7 p.m.) is expected to include the First Couple’s first dance (as First Couple) and Obama’s initial speech of the evening. Some of “the nation’s top recording artists” are expected to be there. This represents your best chance for an Oprah sighting.

Following (ironically enough) “The Biggest Loser,” NBC gives us
“Dateline NBC: Presidential Inauguration Special” (KOB-4 9 p.m.) . Ann Curry, Chris Hansen and the other grinning predator hunters report from assorted inaugural galas (the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball, the Youth Inaugural Ball, the Hawaii Ball, etc.), giving us highlights of the night’s biggest events.

CBS appears to have the loftiest ambitions of the night, thanks to
“Dream Big Dream: The Inauguration of Barack Obama, the 44 th President of the United States” (KRQE-13 8 p.m.) –which, despite the grandiose title, is just an hour-long recap of the day’s highlights.

BET, Black Entertainment Television, is notably excited about the inauguration of our nation’s first Black president, so it’s no surprise to see them going whole hog with
“Yes We Will! BET’s Inaugural Celebration” (BET 8 p.m.) . The network is throwing its very own ball at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel “in support of our next generation of national and local leaders” (though there’s no guarantee the Big O himself will show). Proceeds from this ball will benefit America’s Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest nonprofit alliance dedicated to the well-being of children and youth, founded by Colin and Alma Powell. Your second-best chance to spot Oprah on inauguration night!
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