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After Golden Globes, Hollywood writers strike can hit Oscars now

After the cancellation of the Golden Globes gala show, the attention now moves to the Oscar show scheduled for February 24.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2008 15:38 IST

There was no traditional Hollywood hangover after a spectacularly under-whelming Golden Globes failed to generate much excitement and even fewer parties.

In contrast to the usual champagne-flowing extravaganzas attended by stars done up in the finest fashions, the only Golden Globe after-party worth a mention in the press on Monday was a beer and sandwich get-together at the home of 90-year-old nominee Ernst Borgine.

The reason for the low profile night was the screenwriters strike, which entered its 11th week Monday, as writers and producers continued to disagree about payments for TV and films distributed over the internet. The writers had threatened to picket if the Golden Globes ceremony went ahead as normal, and the Screen Actors Guild had refused to cross picket lines to attend, keeping away the stars who are the main audience draw for the show.

So instead of an alcohol-fuelled dinner and awards ceremony featuring the world's biggest stars in all their glamour, viewers that did tune in to watch a sharply truncated Golden Globe news conference got to see a collection of B-list TV presenters read out the full list of winners in just over 30 minutes.

Attention now moves to the Oscar show scheduled for Feb 24. The Golden Globes are often regarded as a prognosticator for the Oscars, even though it has a less than 50 percent accuracy rate in choosing the best picture. Its track record was even worse over the past three years, with the Globes going without naming the Oscar best picture winner.

But the question now making the rounds is whether the strike action that hobbled the Globes will also cripple the Oscars.

Organizers of the Academy Awards are hopeful they can reach an agreement with the union that would allow the Oscars show to proceed as usual. But so far, the Writers Guild is playing tough, refusing to back down from its official decision in mid-December not to grant a waiver to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences that would allow the ceremony to go ahead as usual.

"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," the guild said in a statement. "We must do everything we can to bring our negotiations to a swift and fair conclusion."

The awards boycott certainly seems to be the Writers Guild's most powerful weapon so far as TV networks mine reruns and reality shows to keep screens lit and movie studios have a treasure chest of completed scripts they can mine. The cancellation of the Golden Globes reportedly cost broadcaster NBC $20 million in lost advertising revenue and brought home the depth of animosity between the two sides, who were willing to scuttle an established industry institution rather than find an acceptable compromise.

In the end, the Oscars could fare even worse as the strike destroys public enthusiasm for the shenanigans of the entertainment industry, writes Richard Corliss, the noted film critic for Time magazine.

"As for hints of Oscar triumphs and upsets... honestly, does it matter? It's my job to care, and I don't," he wrote. "Movie audiences may feel similarly indifferent toward the Oscar show. Deprived of their usual chance to suck on the helium of the Globes' star quality, filmgoers may be less eager to catch up with the Oscar nominees when they're announced on Jan 22."