Are the Oscars in Jeopardy? Hollywood on High Alert

The writers strike takes down Golden Globes; will Oscars survive?

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 12:21 AM

Jan. 9, 2008 — -- The future may not look so bright for Oscar after Hollywood's striking writers and their allies took aim at the Golden Globes, forcing the popular awards show to cancel the ceremony, in favor of a glorified news conference.

"It's definitely a bad omen for the Oscars," said Stuart Levine of Variety. It's the second big blow to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has been unable to persuade the union to let writers work for the broadcast.

"The WGA [Writers Guild of America] has already said it was not going to grant a waiver to the Oscars. We could see the same exact scenario as with the Golden Globes, where there will be a lot of talk and then no Oscar show after all."

The Academy however, has not yet formally requested the waiver.

With or without a union pass, an ABC network spokeswoman insists preparations for broadcasting the Academy Awards, Feb. 24, are proceeding.

Academy president Sid Ganis told, "We're moving ahead with our plans. That's our job, to prepare a show and that's what we're doing."

Last year about 40 million people tuned in to watch the crown jewel of awards shows, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.

"It's anybody's guess how it's going to go. For some reason, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has taken a wait-and-see approach," said Nellie Andreeva of the Hollywood Reporter.

"But if they don't come to an agreement, the Oscars could be the next casualty."

The Critics Choice Awards producers received a waiver from the WGA and at the ceremony this week many actors shared their opinions about the possibility of a dark stage on Oscar night.

"I can't really imagine them letting the Oscars go, but if so, so be it," said Don Cheadle."We have to have solidarity with?the writers."

George Clooney suggested tough love. "The big hope is that all these guys get into a room and start to solve this and lock the doors and don't come out until they solve it."

Some awards shows have clearly been spared the wrath of the WGA. The Critics Choice Awards got a pass, as did the Spirit Awards for independent films, which will be held the day before the Oscars.

"They have been very selective and that is raising some eyebrows because they have not been consistent in their strategy," said Andreeva. She suggests the WGA's granting of waivers to some-, but not all, is calculated for maximum effect.

"It's a big war for them. They have too many moving targets and I understand they have to pick and choose. The award season is one of the holy grails of entertainment, something that is treasure and has been around for decades. They [the WGA] wanted to go after the two big ones."

Adam Shankman, the director of the movie "Hairspray," has a problem with that approach.

"The idea that any guild would prevent their members from being able to celebrate while not effectively taking down the networks? And granting waivers to other people? It's really a shame. It's really, I think, kind of wrong and not thinking of the big picture."

Representatives for the WGA did not respond to inquiries seeking comment about its policy for handing out strike waivers.

The buzz and hype that often follows the nominations for a Globe or Oscar can have a significant upside for a film's box office. And the payoff can persist after an awards ceremony if a movie or actor comes away with one of the coveted statues.