AWARD (NO) SHOW: The latest victim of the Hollywood writers’ strike is the Golden Globe Awards, which have been refused a waiver from the Writers Guild of America and would have been star-deprived as a result, with nominees, presenters and guests refusing to cross WGA picket lines. In response, NBC announced a low-budget alternative for this Sunday, centred around a one-hour televised press conference at 9 p.m. EST, at which only NBC cameras will be allowed.
In order to try and salvage the night — a Variety piece estimates NBC stands to lose between as much as $20 million US in lost ad revenues, while the local Hollywood economy could be out as much as $80 million — the network is kicking off the night at 7 p.m. with a special edition of Dateline featuring clips and interviews with nominees. If negotiations with Golden Globes producer Dick Clark Productions work out, an hour-long clip show will follow at 8 p.m., and the press conference will be followed at 10 p.m. with “an Access Hollywood style, Golden Globes party show ... visiting the various parties in Hollywood.”
Dick Clark Productions and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association aren’t the biggest victims, in terms of total cash lost, but they’re probably the principal losers, being on the hook for staging the show, in addition to losing the licence fee from NBC. “The show’s production costs an estimated $1 million to $2 million,” reported Variety, “with much of that already spent on the venue, sets, lighting, music, crews, red carpet, security and trucks — money Dick Clark Prods. and the HFPA won’t get back.”
Dick Clark Productions had been trying for weeks to get the same sort of waiver the WGA granted David Letterman’s World Wide Pants, but were rebuffed late last week. Clark’s company, which isn’t a member of the AMPTA — the WGA’s opponent in the strike — issued a statement complaining about its treatment: “We are disappointed that the WGA has refused to bargain with us in good faith. It is apparent that we are being treated differently from similarly situated production companies.”
The WGA’s inconsistent policy toward small producers was reinforced with news of a deal made with United Artists, the venerable studio recently revived by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner, that gives UA an exemption from the strike. These sort of deals weren’t uncommon during the last WGA strike in 1988. The New York Times reported that “more than 100 production companies signed interim agreements with the union during the last strike to little effect,” though the Times speculated that not only could the major studios use small studios with exemptions as “processing factories,” inconsistent deals such as the one denied Dick Clark could open the WGA up for unfair labour practices charges with the National Labor Relations Board.
With the Golden Globes dimmed, the fate of the Oscars now remains in doubt, as a waiver for the movie industry’s annual self-celebration would be flagrantly inconsistent. Pondering a winter without either, all I can say is, at times like this, there’s always a silver lining.