Sochi: Creative Director of Closing Ceremony Promises a Low-Key, Art-House Event

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Meanwhile, rumors say that Konstantin Ernst, who also heads Channel One, may lose his job after the Olympics.

MOSCOW -- Konstantin Ernst, creative director of the Sochi Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies, has promised that the closing event, scheduled for Feb. 23, will "objectively portray" Russian culture and be a low-key "art house" production, compared with the glitzy opening ceremony two weeks before. Meanwhile, according to reports in the local media, Ernst could be fired from his main job as head of Russia's biggest TV station, Channel One, soon after the Olympics.

"To portray our culture in the most objective way, we decided to look at it through the eyes of a European," Ernst was quoted as saying by the Russian wire service RIA Novosti. "[We will look at it] through the eyes of a person born in the very center of Europe, renowned theater director Daniele Finzi Pasca."

"[The ceremony] is to be low-key, art-house but, I hope, interesting," he added, hinting that the Olympic Bear, the mascot of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics, could be featured; however, he did not disclose any more details.

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The opening ceremony, held on Feb. 7, stirred controversy due to a malfunction during the light show, when one of the Olympic rings failed to light. Ernst was criticized for failing to ensure that venue camera tracking gear was fitted in time, although it was a technical issue for which he wasn't directly responsible.

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Meanwhile, a prominent local singer fired accusations of copyright violations directly at him. "Channel One ignored all possible agreements and used my track without my consent," rock singer Zemfira said on her website, referring to the use of her song "Khochesh" ("Do You Want?") in a mashup by DJ Leonid Rudenko.

"The ceremony was excellent!" she added sarcastically. "My congratulations to you, [Konstantin]!"

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She didn't file a lawsuit, though.

Ernst's involvement in the Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies could be the only reason why he is still keeping his job, as local media predicted his firing soon after the Olympics because of his "too liberal views." Over the last couple of years, heads of several major state-run news outlets have been replaced in what is widely believed to be the Kremlin's tightening control of the media. Last December, a decision was made to liquidate the wire service RIA Novosti after the Olympics, replacing it with another institution with hard-line journalist Dmitry Kiselyov at the helm.

Over the 15 years that Ernst has headed Channel One, he has been actively involved in TV series and film production, having produced several dozen titles, including Timur Bekmambetov's breakthrough movie Night Watch and its sequel Daylight Watch. Currently, another sequel, Twilight Watch, is in the works.