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Host Your Own Online Oscar® Party at

Blockbuster Sponsors eDrive's 4th Annual Oscar® Coverage Featuring Multiple Feed Interactive Party Room Technology Provided By E-Pub Inc.

New York, NY, March 12, 1997 – Beginning today, film fans can invite their far-flung friends and family members to spend Oscar Night(TM) together online at, courtesy of Blockbuster, E-Pub, Inc. and Entertainment Drive (eDrive). The three companies announced today that Blockbuster will sponsor eDrive's 4th annual interactive Oscar® coverage on March 24 – including a live Q&A from backstage -- which fans can enjoy from the comfort of virtual couches in private online party rooms provided by E-Pub. Both formal and informal party rooms are available for groups of up to ten people each. Participation is free, and no software download is required.

Hosts and party guests will be represented by different characters (called "avatars") who are seated on a couch watching the Academy Awards® show on TV. Each guest's typed-in comments will appear in a word balloon over their avatar's head. eDrive's live text feeds from backstage at the Oscars® – featuring celebrated entertainment columnists Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith -- and from eDrive's CyberStudio in New York will be visible in a picture frame hanging behind the couch, so fans can interact live with the stars and with eDrive's own entertainment correspondents and expert movie critics. These live feeds will be transcribed by court stenographers at a fast 200 words per minute. While chatting, guests can also participate in live polls and trivia games. An audio feed will feature the sounds of applause as each winner is announced. Party-goers can become party-crashers by switching from room to room, or even assume the identity of a wall-mounted moosehead while chatting.

Beginning today, prospective party hosts can go to and reserve either a formal or informal party room before sending out personalized party invitations directly from the site. Fans without Java-enabled browsers will not have access to the individual rooms, but they will still be able to access the live feeds in the main auditorium, which is designed to look like a grand movie palace. Last-minute Oscar® watchers who haven't been invited to a private party are also welcome to participate in the main auditorium, or they can "crash" any open party as long as there's room on the couch. Fans are also invited to check out eDrive's comprehensive Academy Awards® area, full of Oscar® facts, movie reviews and even a list of Oscar®-erudite lines to drop in cocktail conversation.

"Thanks to the great folks at the Academy, eDrive was the very first to go live online from backstage at the Oscars four years ago, and this year, we wanted to offer fans a new twist on the concept we pioneered," notes Michael Bolanos, the founder, president and CEO of Entertainment Drive. "We're making it simple for friends who may live far apart from each other to watch the Oscars together. It's easy, fun and free, with no coats on the bed and no cleanup."

"Sponsoring eDrive's interactive Oscar chat signifies our commitment to providing customers with access to the latest, most exciting forms of entertainment," says Cici Kelly, Blockbuster's director of online marketing. "We are happy to help bring the excitement of Oscar night into the homes of fans everywhere."

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to illustrate the power of E-Pub Chat in creating the customized chat environment for this eDrive event," states Michael Simon, President of E-Pub, Inc., "and we can't wait to see how other corporations and organizations use E-Pub Chat to customize their communications spaces."

E-Pub Services Limited, the parent company of E-Pub, Inc., specializes in developing high performance, multi-user, real-time, community-building and gaming software for the Internet. E-Pub's gaming technology is showcased in its own award-winning, advertising-supported game site located at The robust E-Pub Chat product line, which launches in April, enables web publishers to create chat spaces with customized 2D environments. E-Pub develops software both for licensing and for its own media properties. The company's headquarters are in Ireland with offices in the US, UK, and Hungary. E-Pub, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of E-Pub Services Limited, a privately-held company.

Blockbuster is composed of more than 5,000 video and music stores in 50 states and 25 countries. Blockbuster is a unit of Viacom Inc., one of the world's largest entertainment and publishing companies and a leading force in nearly every segment of the international media marketplace.

Entertainment Drive was the first online outlet ever to go live from backstage at the Oscars®, and has premiered live online coverage of virtually all the other major entertainment industry awards. The Entertainment Drive web site at was just named one of PC Magazine's 'Top 100 Sites,' while eDrive's entertainment communities on CompuServe Interactive (CSi) have registered more than one million members and continue to rank among CSi's top ten attractions ('GO EDRIVE' on CSi; CompuServe on NASDAQ: CSRV ).

Entertainment columnists Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith have been a part of eDrive since its inception, delivering the latest behind the scenes industry news free of rumors and inuendo. Their syndicated column is distributed by Tribune Media Services to more than 300 newspapers. Both Beck and Smith appear on "'The Gossip Show' on E!, while Smith also writes the "Rock Tracks" and "Ask Stacy" columns distributed by Tribune Media.

ACADEMY AWARD®, OSCARS®, OSCAR NIGHT(TM) and OSCAR® design mark are the trademarks and services marks, and the OSCAR® statuette the copyrighted property, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. is neither endorsed by nor affiliated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.