SAG bags a waiver for kudos

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SAG said Tuesday that the guild has obtained a WGA script waiver for the 14th annual SAG Awards, allowing its Jan. 27 telecast to go forward unencumbered by the current writing ban in force since guild scribes went on strike 51/2 weeks ago.

Officials from other kudocasts — including the Golden Globes and Academy Awards — still are scrambling to obtain similar waivers from the WGA. But guild executives were ducking the question of whether such waivers might be forthcoming.

"For the time being, it's too preliminary to forecast," a WGA West spokesman said Tuesday.

It's probably not by chance that the WGA's first major script waiver went to SAG, which has been closely aligned with the WGA in its negotiating face-off with Hollywood studios.

"WGA's support for Screen Actors Guild and the SAG Awards — an event that pays tribute to the extraordinary work of actors and highlights the importance of the labor movement in the entertainment industry — is welcome recognition of the strong bond of solidarity between our two creative guilds," SAG exec director Doug Allen said. "We're grateful to the WGA for working with us to accomplish this understanding and strongly support their efforts to get a fair contract."

The guild waiver allows SAG to hire a WGA writer for its awards at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. The awards gala will be simulcast on TNT and TBS at 8 p.m. EST/PST, 7 p.m. CST and 6 p.m. MST, with SAG Award nominations to be announced Dec. 20.

In previous actions, the WGA granted waivers covering the recent Kennedy Center Honors in Washington and an AIDS-charity event hosted by Elizabeth Taylor on the Paramount lot in Hollywood.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which stages the annual Golden Globe Awards, is among groups awaiting word on whether guild writers will be allowed to work on upcoming awards telecasts.

"It's what we're working on, and it's what we're hoping for," HFPA president Jorge Camara said Tuesday.

The HFPA had made its appeal to the guilds and was awaiting a verdict, Camara said. Although "hopeful and optimistic" a waiver will be granted, the group might not have its answer until after Globe noms are announced Thursday morning, he added.

A WGA waiver also would assist the awards shows since in addition to guaranteeing a writing staff, it would also eliminate picket lines. That would prevent actors and others from having to decide whether to cross or not attend the events.

Globes will be awarded Jan. 13 at a gala set for broadcast on NBC, with the show produced by Dick Clarks Prods. in association with the HFPA.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is still similarly in the dark regarding any potential waiver for the 80th Annual Academy Awards, to be telecast Feb. 24 on ABC. An AMPAS spokeswoman declined comment on expectations for an Oscar waiver.

Steven Zeitchik in New York contributed to this report.
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