TLC cel­e­brates the royal wed­ding

TV Week - - FRONT PAGE - BY KATE O’HARE

In a world wracked by rebel up­ris­ings, po­lit­i­cal down­falls, spi­ral­ing prices and sink­ing con­fi­dence, the pomp and pageantry of a Bri­tish royal wed­ding may seem not only anachro­nis­tic but down­right friv­o­lous.

Don’t tell that to Amer­i­can net­work and cable tele­vi­sion, though; they have gone all out and then some to cel­e­brate the nup­tials of Queen El­iz­a­beth II’s grand­son Prince Wil­liam and his in­tended, long­time love Kate Mid­dle­ton, which takes place at Lon­don’s fa­bled West­min­ster Abbey on Fri­day morn­ing.

Wil­liam’s fa­ther is Prince Charles, heir to the throne, and his mother was Princess Diana. Their royal wed­ding in 1981 was as big a TV sen­sa­tion as could be had in its day, drag­ging Yanks out of their beds early to watch live cov­er­age of the de­mure bride in her enor­mous pouf of a silk taffeta gown wed her prince.

The cou­ple’s story hardly had a fairy­tale end­ing, be­gin­ning with a scan­dalous di­vorce and con­clud­ing with Diana’s un­timely death, but many hope that Wil­liam and Kate find last­ing hap­pi­ness. Ca­blenet TLC, in part­ner­ship with ITV Stu­dios Amer­ica, the U.S.-based branch of the U.K. stu­dios, launched a week­long cel­e­bra­tion of the wed­ding last Fri­day, span­ning two con­ti­nents and in­volv­ing sev­eral of the net­work’s fa­mil­iar faces.

On Sun­day, there’s the two-hour “Charles and Di: Once Upon a Time”; “Un­told Sto­ries of a Royal Brides­maid,” fo­cus­ing on Diana’s brides­maid In­dia Hicks; and “Roy­ally As­tound­ing: 30 Defin­ing Days of the Monar­chy.” Then on Mon­day is “Wild About Prince Harry,” a pro­file of Wil­liam’s brother and best man; on Tues­day is “What the Sell? Royal Episodes,” fo­cus­ing on mem­o­ra­bilia; and Wed­nes­day has “Ex­treme Royal Col­lec­tions.”

Thurs­day is wed­ding eve, start­ing with “The Mak­ing of a Royal Wed­ding,” a look into the lo­gis­tics of the big day. Then “Count­down to the Royal Wed­ding” gets the party started, with TLC per­son­al­i­ties in­clud­ing fash­ion ex­pert Clin­ton Kelly (“What Not to Wear”) in Lon­don and wed­ding dress de­signer Randy Fenoli (“Say Yes to the Dress”) in New York’s Times Square.

Live cov­er­age of the nup­tials then launches at 2 a.m. Fri­day (Pa­cific) — in­clud­ing a mu­si­cal per­for­mance by singer/song­writer Col­bie Cail­lat — and will be re­broad­cast im­me­di­ately at 6 a.m., and then again in prime time on Fri­day and Satur­day, with bonus con­tent.

Call­ing in from va­ca­tion in Key West, Fla., Kelly ad­mits that he didn’t ask for the job. “I don’t vol­un­teer for much these days,” he says, “so they did ask me. I said, ‘Are you sure I’m the right guy to do this? I’m not that into the roy­als, and I’m not that into wed­dings.’ But they in­sisted I’m the per­fect man for the job. So I’m off to Lon­don for a week.”

He didn’t even watch the orig­i­nal wed­ding live, but his Bri­tish grand­mother from New Zealand filled him in on the de­tails. He says, “I do re­mem­ber think­ing, ‘That dress is gi­gan­tic. It doesn’t feel very mod­ern.’ I hope Kate chooses a dress that both feels very re­gal and ap­pro­pri­ate to the sit­u­a­tion, but there’s also a nod to moder­nity.”

Fenoli — who is into wed­dings — says, “I re­ally do hope that she chooses some­thing that is sim­ple enough to show off her beauty and re­ally en­hance her beauty, be­cause she’s a gor­geous woman.

“Princess Diana was so beau­ti­ful, but her dress over­pow­ered her. How­ever, we do have to keep in mind that Kate’s re­ally not choos­ing a dress for her­self; she’s re­ally choos­ing a dress for all of Eng­land.”

The dress is a state se­cret un­til the wed­ding day, and so is the de­signer. But it’s al­most cer­tain to be a Brit. While many spec­u­late that it could be Sarah Bur­ton, cre­ative di­rec­tor for the cou­ture house of late Bri­tish de­signer Alexan­der McQueen, that’s been roundly de­nied. But the U.K. has sev­eral bri­dal de­sign­ers, in­clud­ing Jenny Pack­ham, Phillipa Le­p­ley, Ian Stu­art, Suzanne Neville and Bruce Old­field.

Of course, it’s a de­ci­sion ac­tu­ally made long ago. Speak­ing in late March, Kelly says, “Oh, I’m sure the dress is un­der con­struc­tion. She’s prob­a­bly com­ing close to hav­ing a fi­nal fit­ting.

This sort of thing we do not leave to chance.” With all the talk about dresses and cer­e­monies and hoopla, Fenoli says, “We’re all caught up in the royal wed­ding, but we’re miss­ing out on the hu­man el­e­ment.

“Kate’s still a woman; she’s still a bride; she’s mar­ry­ing the man of her dreams. We’re so caught up in so much of the hype of it that we tend to for­get that she’s a real woman.”

“Charles & Di: Once Upon a Time” airs Sun­day on TLC.

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