UPDATE with more specials: NBC’s Dateline and Saturday Night Live, ABC’s 20/2o and Oprah Winfrey’s OWN are among the networks who have set aside special programming this weekend focused on Prince, the iconic rocker and filmmaker who died yesterday at age 57.
Prince was declared dead Thursday morning at his Paisley Park compound in the suburbs of Minneapolis, where police found him unresponsive in an elevator and he could not be revived. Autopsy results likely won’t be made public for weeks until tests are complete, according to officials at a news conference today.
Meanwhile, tonight at 10 PM Dateline will air “Prince: Life & Death Of An Icon,” an hourlong special devoted to the singer’s life and legacy. It will be anchored by Lester Holt from Los Angeles and bumps the previously planned segment to a later date. ABC’s 20/20 counters in the same time slot with “Prince: Death Of A Legend” anchored by Elizabeth Vargas.
NBC’s Saturday Night Live at 11:30 PM tomorrow is now titled “SNL Goodnight Sweet Prince” and will be a clip show highlighting memorable Prince performances over the years. It will replace a repeat from a few weeks ago with Peter Dinklage as host and Gwen Stefani music guest, that initially had been scheduled.
Also on Saturday, OWN will present a re-airing of a 1996 Prince interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show on Saturday at 8 PM. AXS TV will present a tribute block featuring the Prince episode of the network’s Rock Legends (1 PM ET) followed by the TV premiere of the documentary Slave Trade: How Prince Re-Made The Music Business.
VH1 has been running Prince’s 1984 film Purple Rain a few times a day since Thursday and it will continue twice a day through the weekend.
Since news of his death first spread yesterday, cable and broadcast nets have been scrambling to line up special programming, and Purple Rain — which helped launch him into the pop culture stratosphere — is being rereleased on about 160 theater screens nationwide after exhibitors reached out to Warner Bros for prints.
Meanwhile, the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy Friday but officials said during a news conference carried live by all the cable news networks that it will likely take weeks before any results or cause of death are released publicly.
Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson told reporters that there “were no obvious signs of trauma on his body” and that “We have no reason to believe it’s a suicide.”
Medical Examiner spokeswoman Martha Weaver said at the same presser that there were no plans to release preliminary findings of the report, as rumors swirl about the health of the rocker. He had canceled planned concerts recently, and told the crowd during a makeup concert in Atlanta on April 14 that he had been “under the weather,” according to the Associated Press.
The AP said Prince’s last semi-public appearance was at a dance party he hosted at Paisley Park on April 16.