WGA writes off waivers for Oscars, Golden Globes



UPDATED 8:51 p.m. PT Dec. 17, 2007
UPDATED 8:40 p.m.
PT Dec. 17, 2007
UPDATED 8:09 p.m. PT Dec. 17, 2007

Oscar and the Golden Globes will have to go without WGA writers on their telecasts, barring any last-minute reprieves.

That's the bottom line from a dramatic rebuff of both awards shows made public Monday night, though Oscar has gotten only a portion of the bad news so far.

The WGA said Monday night that it has nixed a writing-waiver request from producers of the Golden Globes telecast and also a request for some clips clearances for the Oscars. But a WGA insider said a decision also has been made -- though not announced -- to reject a request for a writing waiver for the Oscars as well.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and Dick Clark Prods., co-producers of the Jan. 13 Globes telecast on NBC, had asked that WGA scribes be cleared to work on the program. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had sought permission to use certain film clips for its February presentation of the Oscars on ABC and also would require a waiver to use WGA writers on its telecast.

WGA spokesman Gregg Mitchell declined comment on when the matter of an Oscars writing waiver might be addressed. But a guild source insisted that the decision already had been made and that it too had gone against AMPAS.

AMPAS spokeswoman Leslie Unger stressed that the request for clips clearance was not strike-related but one that's made of many organizations in clearing rights on telecast materials. Unger said she did not know when or if a strike-related writing waiver might be posed of the WGA.

Golden Globes organizers expressed disappointment over the WGA's rejection of its writing waiver request but also indicated that something still might be worked out with the guild to allow WGA scribes to participate in its Globes telecast.

"The Golden Globes, which has a long and friendly relationship with the Writers Guild of America, is obviously disappointed that the WGA denied its request for a waiver," the Globes said. "However, we are encouraged by the fact that the WGA has announced that it plans to negotiate agreements with independent production companies. Therefore, we will attempt to reach some type of agreement with them on behalf of the 65th annual Golden Globe Awards, which will recognize and honor outstanding achievements in both movies and television programming made before the strike."

If such efforts fail -- and if the writers strike is not settled in time for the Globes or the even Academy Awards on Feb. 24 -- problems for the shows' producers will go beyond how to crank out scripts for the telecasts.

Actors who are members of SAG and AFTRA will be loath to act as presenters on the programs if it means crossing WGA picket lines. Even award winners will think twice before doing so, though some have suggested that the actors could use the opportunity to take swipes at studios in their acceptance remarks.

In announcing the WGA's decisions, the guild said letters had been sent to the HFPA and AMPAS expressing WGA West president Patric Verrone's "respect and admiration for both organizations."

Verrone and other WGAW officials were attending a membership meeting in Santa Monica on Monday night.

"Writers are engaged in a crucial struggle to achieve a collective bargaining agreement that will protect their compensation and intellectual property rights now and in the future," Verrone said. "We must do everything we can to bring our negotiations to a swift and fair conclusion for the benefit of writers and all those who are being harmed by the companies' failure to engage in serious negotiations."

The entities producing the Golden Globes and the Oscars are West Coast signatories, the guild noted. The WGAW's board concluded "reluctantly" that granting exceptions for the Golden Globes or the Academy Awards would not help the striking writers' cause, officials said.

The WGAW and WGA East have been on strike since Nov. 5, following the expiration of their primary film and TV contract with studios and networks.

Nellie Andreeva in Los Angeles and Steven Zeitchik in New York contributed to this report.