HBO repairs snafu over prayer in concert telecast

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - HBO said late Monday that it will include an opening prayer from an openly gay pastor in subsequent telecasts of the “We Are One” inaugural concert, whose original live telecast began after the pastor’s invocation.

The cable network said that it had not been advised about what would go where in the two-hour live telecast.

The Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, delivered the opening prayer in front of the Lincoln Memorial at 2:20 p.m. Sunday to kick off “We Are One,” a star-studded event honoring President-elect Barack Obama. But HBO’s telecast didn’t begin until 2:30 p.m. ET and was live throughout, meaning that viewers at home didn’t get a chance to see Robinson’s prayer.

The omission caused a pile of headaches for HBO and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which received an estimated $2 million to give HBO the exclusive rights to the concert. HBO offered the signal free to cable and satellite subscribers, regardless of whether they had HBO. But the committee, which goes by the acronym PIC, said the fault was its own and not HBO’s.

“We had always intended and planned for (the) Rev. Robinson’s invocation to be included in the televised portion of yesterday’s program,” PIC communications director Josh Earnest said. “We regret the error in executing this plan.”

HBO said it wasn’t involved in the scheduling and said Robinson’s opening prayer had been slated in the preshow before 2:30 p.m. Everything from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., when the concert ended, aired live and unedited.

Among the stars who participated in “We Are One” were Denzel Washington, Bruce Springsteen, Shakira and U2 frontman Bono. Obama addressed the crowd near the end.

HBO said that it would add the invocation in repeats as well as stream it on

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter