STRUCK DUMB: PARTY POOPERS: The Oscars look like they might be sloppier and more potentially embarrassing to watch this year — if such a thing is actually possible — thanks to the latest move by the Writer’s Guild of America in their ongoing strike against the networks and studios.
Jon Stewart, this year’s host and a WGA member, was forbidden from writing his monologue or any scripted segments for the show when the guild refused to grant a waiver to the Academy’s producers this year — expect a lot of nervous smiles and laughs, some feints at self-consciously crude jokes, and a likely breakout of flop sweat by the time the show grinds into its third hour. There will also be no shortage of coy jokes about writing, writers, the guild, producers, and other insider topics that should make this year’s Oscars an experience not unlike a root canal performed by Randy Newman.
“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,” wrote WGA West president Patric Verrone in a statement. “We must do everything we can to bring our negotiations to a swift and fair conclusion for the benefit of the writers and all those who are being harmed by the companies’ failure to engage in serious negotiations.”
In addition, the producers of this year’s Oscars have been forbidden to use clips from movies and previous awards shows during the program, which means no gag compilation film at the top of the show. Also, if many of the presenters seem out of their depths reading off of teleprompters before announcing the winners, their ad-libbing this year could make for some rare moments of grim amusement amidst the long stretches of tedium.