DAVID BIANCULLI

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One Month to the Oscars, and Counting - Quickly
January 24, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
One month from today, the Academy Awards are scheduled to be presented on ABC. Because of the ongoing strike by the Writers Guild of America, and the refusal to cross picket lines by most members of the Screen Actors Guild, that globally popular and profitable awards show is very much at risk this year.

Which, in turn, makes it the single best hope that the strike, just 12 days away from going into its fourth month, will be resolved sooner rather than later. The Golden Globes were a joke, and no big loss at all, but the Oscars, worldwide, are very serious business.

The battle lines, drawn months ago, have advanced to the point where the opposing fronts are staring at each other, eyeball to eyeball. Now it's time for somebody to blink, or most likely we'll all have to wait for June or beyond for a resolution.

The writers flexed their muscles by holding firm and picketing the Golden Globes. The actors sided with the writers, and NBC, trying to prove something, presented a winners-announcement prime-time special that was a national laughing stock.

Since then, the writers have shown some flexibility, giving special dispensation to the CBS telecast of the Feb. 10 Grammy Awards so the show could go on - and celebrate a truly special 50th anniversary. The Directors Guild of America has settled with the studio consortium, but that doesn't sway most members of the WGA, because they feel burned having accepted what the directors settled for, regarding home-video compensation percentages, way back during the last strike 20 years ago.

Both the writers and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, though, have announced a new willingness to resume informal talks - six weeks after the previous, formal talks broke off. Writers also have discussed a willingness to back off from pushing for reality and animation writers to be admitted to the WGA, so there may be a hope of movement at last.

georgecooneyoscars.jpg

The biggest hope, though, is that George Clooney was quoted this week saying flatly that without an agreement or a settlement, no actors he knew would cross a picket line to attend the Oscars. Clooney carries a huge amount of weight in Hollywood, and he's just thrown it behind the writers. If the WGA doesn't blink first, the studios should. The lineup of Oscar nominees announced Tuesday is devoid of blockbusters, so the studios presenting them need all the promotion they can get.

It's foolish to be optimistic at this point, but at least there's a chance. It's in the AMPTP's financial interest to settle things in time for the Oscars to proceed... and now that the Grammys are a go, everyone involved can focus their eyes on the Oscar prize.

 

1 Comment

 

Jim said:

Is there any chance that you'll be able to settle the writers' strike while you're in LA?

Thanks for all you do, and say howdy to Ringo for us.

Comment posted on January 24, 2008 6:42 PM

 
 
 
 
 
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