Jerry O'Connell to host award show.

Jerry O'Connell to host award show.

NBC Photo

Actor O'Connell to Host Eclipse Awards on TVG; Keeneland to Sponsor Awards Segment

Jerry O'Connell, a star of the NBC hit series "Crossing Jordan" who is also an avid horseracing fan, will host the 34th annual Eclipse Awards, Monday, Jan. 24, airing live on TVG from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (PT).

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The network's telecast, from the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, will be presented in three segments, opening with a 90-minute red carpet show, continuing with a 2 1/2-hour awards presentation (to be sponsored by the Keeneland Association), and concluding with a 30-minute wrap-up program. This marks the first time the Eclipse Awards, horseracing's "Oscars," will be presented live on television.

"Jerry O'Connell is a rising star on both television and in the movies, and he's a genuine horseracing fan as well," said TVG senior vice president and executive producer Tony Allevato. "These qualities, plus the fact he will help attract newcomers to our sport, make him a natural to host the evening's festivities."

NTRA commissioner D.G. Van Clief Jr. said O'Connell will lend "extra star quality" to the evening's event. O'Connell also expressed enthusiasm over his role in the event.

"I'm so excited about hosting the event," said O'Connell, who plays detective Woodrow "Woody" Hoyt on "Crossing Jordan". "It's the Oscars for horseracing, except horses are a lot faster and less temperamental than people in show business."

O'Connell began his acting career at age 11 when he co-starred in the hit movie "Stand By Me." Following the completion of his education at the New York University Tisch School of Arts, he resumed his film work in the critically acclaimed role of Cush in the movie "Jerry Maguire." He also appeared in "Scream 2," "Can't Hardly Wait," "Mission to Mars" and "Kangaroo Jack."

In addition to "Crossing Jordan," O'Connell's television credits include "Sliders," and the actor will be featured in fashion designer Perry Ellis' upcoming 2005 campaign.

In addition to announcing O'Connell's role as host of the show, TVG and the NTRA, the event's producer, also announced that the telecast will be divided into the three segments mentioned above. Manning the mike for TVG during the red carpet segment, which will feature interviews with racing's top names as they arrive for the big event, will be Todd Schrupp, Frank Lyons, and Simon Bray, joined by Priscilla Hojiwala and Ken Rudulph patrolling the carpet. Schrupp and Hojiwala will then spearhead coverage of the awards presentations. The wrap-up show, a recap of the evening's events, will feature Lyons, Gary Seibel, Matt Carothers, and Chris Kotulak.

The Eclipse Awards are voted on by a segment of the NTRA membership, the National Turf Writers Association and Daily Racing Form. The Eclipse Awards were first presented in 1971 and are named after the great 18th-century racehorse and sire Eclipse, who began racing at age five and was undefeated in 18 starts, including eight walkovers. Eclipse sired the winners of 344 races, including three Epsom Derbys.

Eclipse Awards are presented in 16 categories, including Horse of the Year, 2-year-old colt, 2-year-old filly, 3-year-old colt, 3-year-old filly, older male, older female, male turf, female turf, sprinter, steeplechase, owner, breeder, jockey, apprentice jockey, and trainer.