The striking writers have now gotten everyone’s attention by refusing to grant a waiver for the Hollywood Foreign Press’ annual hoopla-fest, the Golden Globe awards. Perhaps the general public thought it would be limited to picket signs and a few news articles and that eventually things would calm down. They haven’t calmed down. They’ve become quite heated, in fact. The public still fully supports the writers, but many are wondering what will happen if the strike ruins, say, the Oscars. The Globes are one thing. But the second most watched TV event after the Super Bowl?
Oscar telecast producer Gil Cates promises that, no matter what, the show will go on. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences released a statement that said that they had not yet submitted a waiver request to the WGA, only a request for the use of film clips, standard in any year. The WGA refused their request. However, there hasn’t yet been a rejected waiver for actors to cross the picket line to attend the show, nor for writers to write for the show.
This naturally begs the question: how long will public sympathy hold out? How long can the writers hold out? For their part, the Screen Actors Guild did manage to get a waiver so that theirs is the one show that will be written by actual guild members.
Let’s get real for a minute, folks. I don’t mean to be glib about this, so please forgive me. I side with the writers 100 percent, but someone please tell me why, say, the Screen Actors Guild show would necessarily need guild members to write for it? The SAG awards are not known for their jokes like the Oscars are.
Those “I’m so and so and I’m an actor” bits at the beginning are clearly written by funny writers because they’re almost half-funny. Sometimes they’re all the way funny. Just between you and me, I wouldn’t miss them if they were gone. Sad to say, they could put on the SAGs without writers. Just make sure the pretty stars are there in their pretty clothes and the rest can lean heavily on the speeches.
The Golden Globes don’t exactly have memorable comedy bits either, except when performers like Jack Nicholson take the stage and engage in inappropriate activities. The stars, though, absent from the telecast is what will keep viewers away. Any star crossing the picket line gains immediate disdain from union voters. Union voters vote on the Oscars, so if you want to win one you can’t show up at the Golden Globes.
Does this mean that the SAG awards, because they are waivered, will end up being the hottest ticket in town by default? Does it also mean that the Directors Guild and the Writers Guild will have writers writing their shows?
It does not bode well for the Oscars that their request for film clips was denied. Perhaps they are hoping that the WGA will have a change of heart. If you were the WGA, though, wouldn’t you want to use your most powerful leveraging weapon? Taking down the Oscar telecast is like shooting King Kong off of the Empire State building; it ain’t going to be pretty and it’s going to cause one hell of a crater when it crashes to the ground.
Meanwhile, television will have Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert back in January without writers. We’ll have to wait and see how that one turns out.
The SAG awards will air January 27. Let’s hope that, by that time, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will have pulled its head out of its you-know-what and settled this thing.