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THE TV COLUMN: Billion-plus to watch Will and Kate’s nuptials

By MICHAEL STOREY

This article was published April 28, 2011 at 3:33 a.m.

file-britains-prince-charles-kisses-his-bride-the-former-diana-spencer-on-the-balcony-of-londons-buckingham-palace-following-their-wedding-in-this-july-29-1981-file-photo-the-couples-marriage-was-finally-and-officially-ended-wednesday-aug-28-1996-fifteen-years-after-the-couples-fairy-tale-wedding-watched-on-television-by-millions-of-people-around-the-world-a-legal-clerk-issued-a-decree-that-their-divorce-is-now-absolute

FILE--Britain's Prince Charles kisses his bride, the former Diana Spencer, on the balcony of London's Buckingham Palace following their wedding in this July 29, 1981, file photo. The couple's marriage was finally and officially ended Wednesday, Aug. 28, 1996. Fifteen years after the couple's "fairy-tale" wedding, watched on television by millions of people around the world, a legal clerk issued a decree that their divorce is now "absolute".

— OK. Let’s see if the royals can get this one right.

It has been almost 30 years since about 750 million folks sat glued to their TV sets to watch Prince Charles marry Lady Diana Spencer.

It was a magical moment that thrilled millions of American viewers brought up on Disney fairy tales. We almost expected bluebirds to be singing on Diana’s shoulders and butterflies to alight on her fingertips.

In hindsight, the seeds of marital doom had already been sown even as the couple smooched on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Charles’ heart, you see, belonged to Camilla Parker Bowles (now Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall).

Maybe Will and Kate will have better luck.

In case you’ve been spelunking for the past couple of months, Prince William and Kate Middleton will be hitched Friday morning. You’ll have to get up before dawn to watch it live. You’ll be in good company. Estimates are that between 1 billion and 2 billion will be watching worldwide.

Will and Kate’s marital bliss prospects are betterthan Charles and Di’s. The couple (he’s 28, she’s 29) have been dating off and on since college and took time to know each other before finally becoming engaged.

They seem to be well matched. Kate isn’t the naive, barely 20, blindsided innocent that Diana was on her wedding day.

Will and Kate’s romance will be covered once again in the run-up to the vows being exchanged at 11 a.m. London time. That’s 5 a.m. in Arkansas.

At the ceremony, commoner Catherine Elizabeth “Kate” Middleton will magically transform into royalty. She’ll become Her Royal Highness (HRH) Princess William of Wales or HRH Catherine of Wales or (if William gets a dukedom) HRH Duchess of Something or other.

Or maybe I’m confused.We’ll just call her Princess Catherine. Most networks will be on the air two or three hours before the ceremony to sort out the titles for us.

Best bet: Set your alarm for 3 a.m. if you don’t want to miss a thing. All the news outlets will be using the same camera feeds, but you have choices on commentary, including the BBC so you can watch the same coverage as the Brits:

BBC America

will be showing five and a half hours commercial-free of the main BBC feed with Huw Edwards leading the team. It begins at 2 a.m. The network will repeat its coverage twice once the live stuff is over.

NBC

will feature the Today show crew plus news anchor Brian Williams. Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb will contribute. At 8 p.m. Ann Curry will rehash the events on Dateline NBC.

ABC

will have Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters at the helm. Robin Roberts from Good Morning America will assist in play-by-play from outside Westminster Abbey. At 8 p.m. Friday, Walters will anchor a two-hour 20/20 recap.

CBS

has Katie Couric covering what might be her last major news event for the network if she doesn’t renew her contract June 4. Erica Hill will be live at Buckingham Palace. Couric will host a special, The Royal Wedding: Modern Majesty, at 8 p.m.

CNN

has an advantage with Brits Piers Morgan and Cat Deeley (So You Think You Can Dance) on hand, along with Richard Quest,Anderson Cooper and Kiran Chetry. Royal insider Morgan and Cooper will host highlights at 8 p.m.

Fox News Channel

’s coverage will be handled by Shepard Smith and Martha MacCallum. Color commentary will be provided by Greta Van Susteren, Gretchen Carlson and Jonathan Hunt. Fox News will have a recap at 8 p.m.

MSNBC

will have Martin Bashir and Chris Jansing coanchoring. They’ll be joined by Joe Scarborough and the Morning Joe gang.

TV Guide Channel

gets busy after the ceremony with snarky comedian Kathy Griffin offering snarky snippets after watching the whole thing live from home. Griffin will bring us all back to reality.

FAREWELL, STEVE

Don’t forget, The Office bids farewell to Steve Carell from 8-8:50 p.m. today on NBC. Carell, who is leaving to pursue his movie career, has played bungling office manager Michael Scott since the series debuted in 2005.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. E-mail:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 34 on 04/28/2011

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