People's Choice writes in change

WGA strike forces show into video acceptance speeches

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The People's Choice Awards will undergo a last-minute format change courtesy of the writers strike, now in its seventh week.

Instead of handing out awards before a studio audience, the two-hour show on CBS Jan. 8 will consist of magazine-style videos in which celebrities accept awards, thank fans and answer questions submitted to the People's Choice Web site, PCAvote.com, starting Friday.

The new format does away with the red carpet and the backstage press room. It also eliminates the need for stars to cross picket lines in order to collect their awards. It will, however, allow Queen Latifah to remain host of the show for the second straight year.

The changes were made "out of respect for all the people involved," a spokeswoman for People's Choice said. She confirmed that the awards show had requested a waiver from the WGA but was denied. The show might revert to its traditional format in 2009, she said, assuming the strike is over by then.

"We're excited to pilot a new format for the People's Choice Awards this year," People's Choice president Fred Nelson said.

The People's Choice show is the latest to feel the shock waves generated by the WGA strike. The TV critics' press tour, scheduled for January, was canceled last week. On Monday, the WGA said it wouldn't provide waivers for writers to work on the Golden Globes Awards, scheduled for Jan. 13, or the Oscars telecast Feb. 24.

In addition to being host, Latifah is a nominee for the group's favorite leading lady. Other nominees in this year's telecast include Halle Berry, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, Sandra Bullock, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Robin Williams, Sally Field, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.

The People's Choice Awards, produced by Procter & Gamble, has been held annually since 1975, when "The Sting" won for best movie and lead actor awards went to Barbra Streisand and John Wayne. Winners had been selected by Gallup poll until 2005, when online voters chose from among nominees selected by panel.
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