Strike bashes office parties



UPDATED 12:50 a.m. PT Nov. 30

As the writers strike stretches into the holiday season, entertainment companies are wrestling with the dilemma of whether to go ahead with their annual parties.

Talent agencies, which have been hit the hardest by the work stoppage, by and large have canceled their traditional December bashes, while most movie studios and TV networks are sticking to their party plans, though sometimes in a scaled-back fashion.

Meanwhile, the WGA East is throwing a membership holiday party on Dec. 12 at the Friar's Club in New York to "celebrate our solidarity."

Fox on Thursday decided to proceed with its employee party for the entire Fox Entertainment Group. There had been rumors and internal discussions about possibly scrapping the shindig. (Fox became the first network to curtail discretionary expenses days into the strike.)

"We're pleased to confirm that the 2007 Fox Holiday Party will take place, as scheduled," Fox executives wrote in an internal e-mail to employees Thursday. "Yes, it's going to be leaner and 'greener' than in the past, but we feel it is important to thank you all for your hard work over the past year and wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season." The party will take place Dec. 12 on the studio lot.

While Warner Bros. is too big to have a companywide party, many divisions of the studio are throwing their own parties, as is corporate sibling New Line Cinema.

It's full Steamboat Willy ahead at Disney, which is having a get-together in its commissary.

MGM sent out invitations for a cocktail reception to "celebrate the season," hosted by chairman Harry Sloan, on Nov. 13, but then canceled it on the 19th.

NBC and CBS are proceeding with their parties for the press in New York on Dec. 5 and Dec. 13, respectively. NBC also is giving a children's party for employee parents after it became too late to cancel it.

ABC scrapped their New York press party after sending save-the-date notes, but that was because of a scheduling conflict with an affiliate function ABC executives had to attend that day, sources said.

CBS Paramount Network TV has yet to decide on any festivities, while employees at the CW will share the holiday fun with a potluck party.

The talent agencies, which have seen a major revenue stream dry up because of the strike suspension of TV writers and actors, already have been trimming travel, meal and overtime expenses as well as assistant staffs.

Now ICM, WMA and UTA have canceled their parties, while Endeavor is doing a scaled-back version of their traditional bash that includes awards for employees.

"We put ours on hold when the strike began and then it just went away," one insider at a major agency said.

CAA's party plans were not clear Thursday, though the agency didn't have a holiday party last year.

Meanwhile, Paradigm is holding an outing on the grounds of its Paul Williams-designed headquarters.