E! Network Fumbles Over #WhyWeWearBlack



Allison Williams at red carpet arrivals before the 75th Golden Globe Awards ceremony on Sunday in Beverly Hills, Calif. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

E! Entertainment built an entire two-hour pre-awards franchise on revealing to the world what designer gowns and tuxes various actors and actresses were modeling on the red carpet. Their traditional challenging interlocution was based on the essential question, “Who are you wearing?” So, when all of a sudden those actors and actresses announced their fashion statement is going to be one of substance about serious issues and the style stuff was not that important, what were a pair of popular TV co-hosts to do?

This was the conundrum facing Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic of “E! Live From the Red Carpet” before Sunday night’s Golden Globes, where a call had gone out for attendees to wear black in solidarity with each other and victims of sexual harassment everywhere. Mr. Seacrest and Ms. Rancic didn’t entirely solve it. It turns out it’s harder to pivot from clothes to crises than they apparently expected. But it was kind of fun to watch them grit their teeth in two rictus grins and struggle to try.

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To begin with, Ms. Rancic revealed, she and Mr. Seacrest had pledged to not ask their interviewees who they were wearing, but rather why they were wearing black.

(Both hosts were, of course, dutifully wearing black.)

It sounded like a promising approach. Though it was undermined, somewhat, by the continued presence of the E! Glambot, a gadget that creates a wholly unnecessary slo-mo 360-degree view of outfits, and which could really have done with a new name, if the network had actually been thinking things through.

The piercing replacement questions Mr. Seacrest and Ms. Rancic came up with for their guests also didn’t really advance the cause. Samples: “What were your New Year’s resolutions?” (Mr. Seacrest to Neil Patrick Harris); “What are some strange secret talents you have?” (Ms. Rancic to the cast of “Stranger Things”). And the fact that while the hosts dutifully attempted to discuss the issues with the boldface names on their podiums, they didn’t seem to really know what to do with the answers.

Especially when interviewees such as Debra Messing and Eva Longoria both decided to use their platform to call out E! itself for paying its female hosts less than its male hosts, and announce, in Ms. Messing’s case, she stood in solidarity with Catt Sadler, who quit her job a few weeks ago after revealing she had discovered her male co-host had a much higher salary. Neither Ms. Rancic nor Mr. Seacrest wanted to go near that one.

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