WGA Changes Its Awards Date for 2012

The Writers Guild of America announced on Wednesday when its awards ceremonies will be scheduled in the 2012 Oscar season: at the last minute. On Feb. 19, just before the Feb. 26 Academy Awards ceremony, WGA will host its 64th annual WGA Awards in simultaneous twin ceremonies at the Hollywood Palladium and a New York venue to be announced later. (The entire upcoming WGA timeline is found below.)

Last season, WGA awards were handed out on Feb. 5. What's the grand strategy behind the date change? Could it be to generate a publicity blitz to sway procrastinating Oscar voters two days before Oscar polls close at 5 p.m. PT Feb. 21? Nah. WGA doesn't evince much concern about being an Oscar influencer. It only recognizes productions that sign guild agreements (or agreements with affiliated international guilds), so The King's Speech won its original screenplay Oscar with no WGA award to speed its way. WGA would rather boost the union than its Oscar prophet status.

Could it be that it's easier to wrangle celebs as presenters the week before they flock in for the Oscars like swallows to Capistrano? Nah. Celebs have work to do, so few will come a whole week early.

No, industry sources tell The Hollywood Reporter, it's probably simply a matter of finite venues in an infinitely crazed awards season. The Palladium was available on Feb. 19, it's a cool place, so WGA grabbed it before somebody else did. WGA Awards dates fluctuate with venue availability: in 2010 it was on Feb. 20, in 2004 on Feb. 21. 

Here is the season's WGA plan:

TV eligibility period:
Long Form, Episodic, Animation, and Children’s script categories:
First broadcast between Dec. 1, 2010 and Nov. 30, 2011

All other script categories:
First broadcast between Oct. 1, 2010 and Sept. 30, 2011
Screen eligibility period:
Theatrically exhibited in Los Angeles for at least one week during 2011
Fri. Oct  14                   Deadline for submissions: TV-Radio and Paul Selvin Award scripts
Fri. Oct 14                   Deadline for submissions: Drama, Comedy, and New TV Series
Tues. Oct 25               Preliminary Drama/Comedy/New TV Series online voting begins
Fri. Nov 18                  Deadline for submissions: Theatrical and Documentary Screenplays
Fri. Nov 18                  Deadline for submissions: New Media Writing
Tues. Nov 29              Deadline for Preliminary Drama, Comedy, and New TV Series online voting
Thurs. Dec 1               Deadline for submissions: Videogame Writing
Fri. Dec 2                    Preliminary Screenplay online voting begins
Wed. Dec 7                 Television, Radio, News, Promotional Writing, and Graphic Animation nominees announced
Sat. Dec 31                 Theatrical eligibility period ends (Original/Adapted/Documentary Screenplays)
Tues. Jan 3                 Deadline for Preliminary Screenplay online voting
Thurs. Jan 5              Theatrical and Documentary Screenplay nominees announced
Fri. Jan 6                     Final Screenplay and Drama, Comedy, and New TV Series online voting begins
Tues. Jan 10 –
Thurs. Jan 19              The Contenders – WGA-nominated films screening series, Writers Guild Theater, Beverly Hills
Wed. Jan 11               New Media and Videogame Writing nominees announced (Tentative)
Fri. Jan 27                   Deadline for Final Screenplay and Drama/Comedy/New TV Series online voting
Wed. Feb 8                 Deadline for reservations and ticket sales for 2012 WGA L.A. ceremony
Thur. Feb 16               Beyond Words – WGA-nominated screenwriters panel & reception, Writers Guild Theater – Beverly Hills – 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Feb 19                2012 WRITERS GUILD AWARDS (64nd Annual)
                                    Los Angeles: Hollywood Palladium
                                    New York: TBD
Sun. Feb. 26               Academy Awards

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