SAG Awards show takes the spotlight

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A good writer is an actor's best friend. That saying applies to the 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, which will likely see an uptick in ratings thanks to the WGA.

With a waiver in place for WGA members to work on the Jan. 27 show, the writers have made SAG's gala the first awards show of the season where viewers can see big stars celebrating the achievements of the past year.

Confirmed presenters include some of the performers whose work has been lauded this awards season, such as Josh Brolin, Russell Crowe, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones and John Travolta.

"We were very, very grateful," says producer Kathy Connell of the waiver. "The Screen Actors Guild is supportive of the writers guild, and we have always used a union writer."

Luckily for Connell and executive producer/director Jeff Margolis, the WGA decision came well before writing for the show had to get under way.

"You have to put the whole show together before a writer writes," Margolis explains, adding that work on this show (which is simulcast on TNT and TBS) began one month after the last one ended.

Margolis and Connell say that the show will be similar to past events, with no single host and with table seating for attendees.

This format mirrors the Golden Globe Awards, which usually kick off the awards season in star-studded fashion, but this year's show was a ratings bust without celebrities after the WGA refused to grant a waiver to the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.
 
New at this year's SAG event will be a red-carpet honor bestowed upon the best stunt ensemble, as well as a segment devoted to lifetime achievement honoree Charles Durning and a tribute package that will focus on the guild's 75th anniversary.

"We are acknowledging (SAG) moments onscreen," says Connell, "not individual performances, but about the guild."

The pressure on Connell and Margolis to put on an entertaining show will be ratcheted up, given that the SAG show might be the only one attended by big-name actors. But Margolis isn't worried.

"You always make sure you give the audience what they want to see," he says, "which is stars, stars, stars."
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