ABC News' Barbara Walters to open Promax&BDA 2004

MUMBAI: Promax&BDA has announced that ABC News' Barbara Walters will open the organisation's 49th annual conference with an address and her career spanning perspective on the changing role of promotion on television.

Additionally, organisers this week announced that the cast from last Sunday night's Tony Award winning Best Musical Avenue Q will appear at Promax to reprise their show-stopping number performed during the Tony ceremony at Radio City.

Chief executive officer Promax&BDA Jim Chabin said, "Our theme this year is "Whatever it Takes", a mantra that has been demonstrated by both Barbara Walters and the cast of Avenue Q. I am thrilled that Ms Walters, a respected journalist and producer, wants to share her opinions on the power of promotion with our membership. She has a stellar track record of going the extra mile in pursuit of her subjects as well as asking tough questions and we are all anxious to hear her thoughts. Likewise, the cast of Avenue Q surprised many in the theatre community with its three Tony wins this year and we are pleased they have accepted our invitation to be part of our program. And these two major attractions are just the highlights of what promises to be our most exciting conference to date."

In addition to Walters' extended presence, this year's Promax&BDA has drawn participation from the top names in the television and media world including NBC's Brian Williams, MTV's Judy McGrath, Oxygen Media's Gerry Laybourne and Viacom's Dennis Swanson, as well as entrepreneur Russell Simmons, The New York Times' Stuart Elliott and Vanity Fair / Court TV contributor Dominick Dunne among others.

Initially Walters was slated to be honored as one of the winners of the Television Century Award. In her discussions with Promax&BDA organisers however, Walters wanted to take the opportunity to offer a speech on the importance of promotion in today's fragmented entertainment world. Launched originally in May 2003, the Promax&BDA Television Century Awards were created as an annual award to honor television's elite for their contributions to building brands.

In addition to Walters, the ABC News correspondent, correspondent and anchor of ABC News 20/20 and The Barbara Walters Specials; and co-host and executive producer of ABC Daytime's The View, Dennis Swanson EVP, chief operating officer, Viacom Television Stations Group and Judy McGrath, MTV Networks group president, will also receive the award.

Avenue Q - the hip, low-tech, puppet populated musical, surprised the world when it won the Tony Award for Best Musical defeating the heavily favored Oz fantasy Wicked. Avenue Q also won Best Original Score (Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx) as well as Best Book of a Musical (Jeff Whitty).

Called "the most fun on the stage this year" by The New Yorker, Avenue Q opened off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in March 2003 where it gained rave reviews and was extended four times. It won the 2003 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding New Musical as well as a nomination for the 2003 Outer Critics Circle Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical award.

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