Writers Expected to Picket Awards Shows
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Striking Hollywood writers say they're going to picket next month's Golden Globes Awards, and they will not allow their members to write the lines for the presenters. It's also likely that if the strike is still on, nominees will not cross picket lines to accept their statuettes.
NPR's Kim Masters reports that the writers' strike is putting the Oscars in jeopardy too.
KIM MASTERS: There's no real precedent for the Oscars being disrupted by this type of strike. The closest parallel was in 1980 when the Emmy's were awarded during a Screen Actors Guild strike. Only one star appeared to accept his award.
(Soundbite of archived recording)
Mr. POWERS BOOTHE (Actor): Thanks a lot. This is either the most courageous moment of my career or the stupidest, one or the other.
(Soundbite of laughter)
MASTERS: That was Powers Boothe who won for portraying cult leader Jim Jones in a TV movie. And he knows that acceptance speech is still remembered in Hollywood today.
Mr. BOOTHE: It's almost 28 years ago, and it's amazing to me that it comes up at this point.
MARTIN: Boothe stresses that there was no picket line that night. He's a union man, he says, and he wouldn't cross one. But that year, Boothe had only just arrived in Hollywood, and he found himself nominated along with Henry Fonda and Jason Robards.
Mr. BOOTHE: I was very proud of the work that I did. And I was also incredibly flattered when six or eight months before, I couldn't have kicked in a door in Hollywood.
MASTERS: All these years later, he says, he makes no apologies. But would he do it again today?
Mr. BOOTHE: I'm older and wiser. I don't know. But I would like to have the opportunity.
MASTERS: The question is hypothetical for Powers Boothe, but it's part of a worrisome reality for Gil Cates. He's produced the Oscar show 14 times, and he knows this may be his toughest year yet.
Mr. GIL CATES (Producer, Oscars Show): It's a strike, a legitimate strike by the Writers Guild of America, and the question is whether actors and directors et cetera should cross a picket line to do a show.
MASTERS: It's clear that many won't show up if the strike is still on at Oscar time in February. That includes Forest Whitaker who won last year and normally would be a presenter this year. Many possible nominees like George Clooney are also likely no-shows.
Then there's the issue of this year's host, John Stewart. He's a Writers Guild member and his television show is returning to the airwave, without writers, on January 7th. Union rules would forbid him to deliver a pre-written opening, and those routines are perhaps as anticipated as the best picture announcement at the end of the show.
But Gil Cates says he can deal with that.
Mr. CATES: One thing I can assure you of, there'll be a wonderful red carpet show and a terrific opening to the actual main show itself.
MASTERS: Cates knows that this time, the labor issues seem particularly intractable. He's head of the Directors Guild of America's negotiating committee and that union is about to begin its own discussions with producers.
But he argues that the Oscars are a celebration of talent that should not be drawn into this dispute. The Writers Guild's Jeff Hermanson says the studios have created a mood that is hardly celebratory.
Mr. JEFF HERMANSON (Assistant Executive Director): If they want to celebrate, then let's make a deal and we can all celebrate.
MASTERS: Gil Cates is hoping for a miracle, an end to the strike, or at least a waiver from the Writers Guild allowing the show to go forward with writers. But the Guild's Hermanson says the union has no interest in supporting a show that still draws a big rating and would pour millions into ABC's coffers.
If worse comes to the worst, of course, Cate says the show will go on.
Mr. CATES: Well, it'll be a wonderful show, but it'll be a shorter show than usual, cut some time out of it.
MASTERS: And for many viewers, that may mean that the strike finally has an upside.
Kim Masters, NPR News.