News

Oscars Are Left Hanging

2/01/2008 7:00 PM Eastern

Will the show go on?

With the Academy Awards just three weeks away, concerns are still looming about whether the ceremony will be scotched because of the writers’ strike, which is entering its 14th week.

Last week, the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers continued their informal talks to end the strike, which started Nov. 5.

But there is a news blackout, so it’s unclear how much progress, if any, is being made in the negotiations.

Since the strike started, the WGA has granted various waivers and interim agreements so that scribes could write for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which took place Jan. 27, and the upcoming Grammy Awards, set for Feb. 10.

But the union refused to grant such a waiver to the Golden Globes, which effectively derailed what’s usually a gala event that then had to be handled as a press conference Jan. 13.

Now, the Oscar ceremony is fast approaching, set for Feb 24. SAG has been a staunch supporter of the writers’ strike, so if the Oscars don’t get a WGA waiver, it is unlikely actors will cross picket lines to attend.

In fact, SAG has become an active participant in the WGA fight, really stepping into the fray last week when it criticized a recent contract that the Directors Guild of America reached with the AMPTP.

The DGA deal is seen by some as a potential template for a WGA contract with the studios, especially its provisions for residuals for content used on new-media platforms, like the Internet.

But SAG complained about the download-residuals formula that the DGA agreed to, sparking rebuttals from both the directors’ union and the AMPTP.

SAG’s contract expires June 30, and its vocal remarks on the WGA’s battle with the studios has some industry insiders fearful that the actors are on their way to a strike, as well.

The WGA had scheduled a presentation for Wall Street analysts this week in New York, where it planned to outline the strike’s impact on CBS. But last week the WGA abruptly pulled the plug on the event, which could have reignited tensions with the media conglomerates the union is negotiating with.

Last week, the WGA reached interim agreements with The Film Department and Intermedia Film, additions to the other companies the union has reached pacts with. Those include Lionsgate, RKO Productions, Marvel Studios, The Weinstein Co., United Artists, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Spyglass Entertainment, Media Rights Capital, Jackson Bites, Mandate Films and Worldwide Pants.

March