The Oscars Bring New Hope to Striking Writers

George Clooney got a best actor nomination for his portrayal of a lawyer in "Michael Clayton" -- up against Daniel Day-Lewis as a California oil tycoon in "There Will Be Blood."

But will there be actors at the 80th annual Academy Awards show?

If the Hollywood writers continue their strike, now in its third month, the stars are unlikely to cross the picket line to go to the Oscars.

"The show is so popular. It's the second-most-popular show in the year after the Super Bowl. So without the stars, it turns into a big dud," said Stuart Levine of Daily Variety magazine.

The Motion Picture Academy says it is booking stars to present the Feb. 24 awards on ABC, planning the Governors' Ball, and getting ready to roll out the red carpet as usual.

But the show will be flexible to go writerless and starless as well, possibly loaded with clips from past Oscar ceremonies, the red carpet in black and white.

"We have a lot of material both in terms of what happens on various Oscar shows and also the history of film itself over the last 80 years," Oscar show director Gil Cates said.

Tuesday the writers were heartened by unofficial talks between their union and executives from Disney, Fox and CBS -- possibly opening the door to a settlement.

Out walking the picket line is Pierce Gardner, who wrote the recent movie "Dan in Real Life."

"The very fact that the Oscars are coming up and the fall season is endangered is helpful in the sense that it creates a sense of urgency that was not there a month ago," Gardner said.

The academy promises a good show with host Jon Stewart, with stars or without, but we won't know until they open the envelopes.