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Oscar nominees welcome writer's strike breakthrough

Oscars nominees welcomed news of a breakthrough in negotiations over the Hollywood writer's strike on Monday as organizers of the prestigious film awards vowed this year's show would go on.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2008 13:21 IST
Rob Woollard
Rob Woollard

Oscars nominees welcomed news of a breakthrough in negotiations over the Hollywood writer's strike on Monday as organizers of the prestigious film awards vowed this year's show would go on.

George Clooney, who is nominated in the best actor category at this year's Academy Awards for his performance in legal thriller Michael Clayton, described news of a possible agreement "as a great sign."

"There's a tentative agreement out there that needs to be ratified by the board. But I think there's a good shot of it going forward and that's a great, great, great sign," Clooney said at the annual Oscars nominees luncheon.

"I think there's a lot of strike fatigue and I think you end up losing some of your negotiating power the longer it goes on. So I would hope that all of us in the union get it to the table as quickly as possible."

Hollywood's awards season has been hit hard by the writers strike, which has pitted screenwriters against studio chiefs in a bitter wrangle over profits from Internet sales and downloads.

Several awards shows -- including the Golden Globes -- cancelled their red carpet events after actors said they would not cross picket lines to attend, in a show of support for the Writers Guild of America (WGA).

With the WGA expected to picket the Academy Awards -- which will be handed out in Hollywood on February 24 -- a similar scenario had been feared for the movie industry's most glamorous event of the year.

However in a surprise development at the weekend, it emerged that feuding writers and studios were close to a deal that would end the dispute, possibly as early as this week.

Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said he was optimistic that the Oscars show could continue as normal.

"I hope things will have worked out so that all of us can gather on February 24," he said. "Things are looking very, very good now."

Other Oscars nominees Monday expressed hope the dispute would soon be over.

Firebrand film-maker Michael Moore, nominated for a best documentary Oscar this year for Sicko, his searing indictment of the US healthcare system, accused studio chiefs of "negotiating in bad faith."

"It's really all about a couple of pennies in the dollar. It's so odd that this town could be shut down for two cents," Moore said. "It's sad the studios haven't been negotiating in good faith. I hope the strike's over."

"I hope things get resolved and I hope they get resolved properly," said actor Viggo Mortensen, star of the Lord of the Rings films who is nominated as best actor this year for Russian mob thriller Eastern Promises.

"Sooner or later the corporate leaders are going to have to make the adjustment and grant fair compensation regarding new technology. They ought to do the decent thing and do it now. But it sounds positive."

Tony Gilroy, a best director nominee for Michael Clayton, said he was looking forward to the glamour of the Oscars but was prepared not to go if the strike rumbled on.

"In the context of all the people that have been out of work and the economics of the situation, whether I want to get dressed up and go to a party isn't really that important," Gilroy said.

"I really hope there's a settlement and it's a good deal that the guild can sign off on," he added.

Brad Bird, the Oscar-winning writer-director of the animated film The Incredibles and nominated this year for "Ratatouille," said he was ready to steer clear of the Oscars if no settlement was reached.

"I'm encouraged. I hope it's a situation where everybody wins -- that's what we want," he said. "But certainly if the strike was still on I wouldn't cross the line."