Critics have pointed out that E!’s Oscars red carpet pre-show, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, lacked its usual A-list lineup compared to ABC’s broadcast — but the network isn’t concerned.
“They are happy with the interviews that they got and the folks that stopped and talked to Ryan. They’re happy with how it went and with who they were able to talk with,” a source close to the situation tells PEOPLE. “They had a wide-ranging group of talent, nominees and otherwise.”
The question of who might not stop for Seacrest, 43, arose after his former E! News stylist Suzie Hardy alleged that he sexually harassed and assaulted her — including grabbing her crotch multiple times — throughout her employment at E! from 2007-13. Seacrest has staunchly denied her allegations and accused her of blackmail, and his employers have stood by him.
Be sure to check out PEOPLE’s full Academy Awards coverage to get the latest news on Hollywood’s big night.
On Sunday night, stars including Allison Janney, Christopher Plummer, Rita Moreno, Mary J. Blige, Taraji P. Henson, Whoopi Goldberg and Tiffany Haddish chatted with Seacrest. But nominees from major categories like Meryl Streep, Margot Robbie and Timothée Chalamet didn’t, along with presenter and red carpet favorite Jennifer Lawrence, who’d previously told Howard Stern that she wasn’t sure whether she’d stop for E!
Still, the source says there were other factors at play.
“The Oscars is tough because there is that embargo hour for last hour leading up to the awards show where only ABC is able to air interviews. It’s hard to get some of the big names three hours before the event is going to start,” the source explains. “With the natural progression of celebrities arriving on the red carpet, a lot of it does happen closer to the awards show. Oscars specifically is a little bit more challenging because just as outlets are starting to hit a groove, then they have that embargo hour where they aren’t able to freely interview all of the celebrities who come. In years past, that doesn’t work to any other outlet’s advantage.”
The source adds that E! stands by an investigation finding “insufficient evidence” of Hardy’s allegations and calls Seacrest “a consummate professional. He does it all and he continues to do it all. I don’t think a person who wasn’t positive would be able to continue with the schedule he has to keep on a daily basis! He deserves a lot of credit.”
As for that 30-second delay in the broadcast, rumored to be a cushion in case any actors brought up Hardy’s allegations?
“Every show is different when it comes to delays and how the shows come together with the content from multiple cameras. Brief delays always happen, and they do vary from show to show,” the source says. “E! sometimes has to conduct interviews during commercial breaks. This was normal practice, not to protect Ryan.”
The 90th Oscars were held at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018, and were telecast live on ABC.
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