Oscars, Globes drawn into writers strike: reports

Society Materials 18 December 2007 23:03 (UTC +04:00)

( AFP ) - Hollywood writers will be barred from working at next year's Oscars and Golden Globes, casting a shadow over the entertainment industry's glamorous awards season, reports said Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Times and entertainment industry press said the Writers Guild of America ruled out the possibility of granting a waiver for the two awards shows late Monday.

The Times report said the waiver rejections were part of the writers' strategy to force studios back to the negotiating table after a resumption of talks broke down on December 7.

Hollywood screenwriters have been on strike since November 5 after the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) failed to agree terms for a new contract that expired in October.

Negotiations foundered over the writers' demands for an increased share of profits from Internet and new media sales.

The seven-week strike has forced the suspension of numerous television series as well as the postponement of work on several Hollywood films.

The Los Angeles Times said the WGA had signalled its rejection of a waiver request to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science and Golden Globes organizers in separate letters on Monday.

"We must do everything we can to bring our negotiations to a swift and fair conclusion for the benefit of writers and all those who are being harmed by the companies' failure to engage in serious negotiations," WGA West President Patric Verrone wrote in a letter to academy executive director Bruce Davis.

"Our board concluded, reluctantly, that granting a waiver for the Academy Awards would not advance that goal."

The Times said the waiver rejection would prevent the Academy from using clips from past Oscars shows during the February ceremony, as well as blocking writers from helping write host Jon Stewart's script.

The same restrictions would apply to the Golden Globes, which are organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and take place on January 13.

Dick Clark Productions, the company responsible for producing the Globes ceremony, said it would seek to attempt an independent deal with the guild in order to prevent the show from being picketed.

"The Golden Globe Awards, which has a long and friendly relationship with the Writers Guild of America, is obviously disappointed that the WGA denied its request for a waiver," the company said in a statement.

"However, we are encouraged by the fact that the WGA has announced that it plans to negotiate agreements with independent production companies.

"Therefore, we will attempt to reach some type of agreement with them on behalf of the 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards."

The WGA waiver rejection was condemned by the producer's alliance.

"In the category of Worst Supporting Union, the nominee is the WGA," AMPTP spokesman Jesse Hiestand said in a statement, accusing the guild of denying artists "who deserve to be honored for their work over the last year."

The prospect of stars having to cross picket lines before they venture onto the red carpet has been unnerving celebrities caught in the crossfire of the acrimonious dispute.

David Cronenberg , the director of gangster drama "Eastern Promises," which has been nominated for best picture at the Golden Globes, said he would be uncomfortable breaking ranks with writers.

"It would be very hard for me to cross a WGA picket line," said Cronenberg , a longstanding member of the WGA. "Everybody will have the same problem," he told Daily Variety last week.

Actress Glenn Close, who has been nominated for her performance in the US television series "Damages," added: "I would never cross a picket line."