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Oscars hit prime time on Net

"And the winner is..." on the Net during tonight's broadcast of the Academy Awards, one of Hollywood's most-watched events.

"And the winner is..." on the Net during tonight's broadcast of the Academy Awards, one of Hollywood's most-watched events.

More than a month before this year's Oscars, sites began popping up on the Web listing nominees, and promising to Webcast all or most of tonight's show.

The sites with real audio and video coverage of the Oscars include, Oscar.com, in conjunction with ABC and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a site by Hollywood Online, which will have live chats with nominees and coverage of post-awards events.

It's just another example of the marriage of Silicon Valley technology with Hollywood glitz, dubbed "Siliwood." But there's nothing silly about the motives: to build viewership through cross-promotion. Television networks increasingly are turning to the Web to promote their programming, and ventures such as CityWeb are being launched to help affiliates build Web sites and generate advertising. The Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC, is expanding its presence on the Web, too.

From the time stars roll up and walk down the red carpet to the post-event parties, Netizens around the world will have access to features like video clips from the backstage press rooms, full text transcripts of the Q&A with the night's winners on Oscar.com. But the Webcast will not feature the actual reading of winners, people will have to tune into the live show on ABC. Hollywood Online, however, said it will stream the show live.

Other sites trying to cash in on hits from the popular Oscars include: Siskel and Ebert's predictions from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune; Internet Movie Institute; Starwave's Mr. Showbiz goes to the Oscars; Microsoft's Cinemania; and E! Online (a joint-venture with CNET).