Oscar Beat: Can the Writers Strike Derail the Oscar Show?

Way back in the last century, 1988 to be precise, another writers strike took place and the Academy Awards went on anyway. How could that have been? Because the show had already been written before that strike began and Guild members who appeared on the show were permitted to ad-lib. They were merely cautioned against writing any new material.

But this is a different century and it could be a different story for the Oscars to be held February 24, 2008.

For one thing, the nominations haven’t yet been released so it’s impossible for writers to have written the show before this current strike. One of the most consistent and prolific writers in town is Bruce Vilanch, who has worked on the Oscar shows for 18 years. Vilanch said, “Most stand up performers write for themselves and when they have shows, they get a writing credit.” Think Jon Stewart, host for the 2008 Oscars.

For another thing, it may be difficult for the Academy Awards to “find people who will perform on the show who aren’t members of the Writers Guild,” said Vilanch.

As for the Golden Globe, award nominees will be revealed December 13, and the script begins the following day, said executive producer Barry Adelman. Or will it?

“We’re hopeful the issues pertaining to the … strike will be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction before then,” he said in a statement. “We intend to explore all of our available options in the upcoming weeks.”

The chance of shows without WGA pros providing “off-the-cuff” banter and a satirical look at nominated films, has the industry talking about the Hollywood Foreign Press’ “secret weapon.”

In order to avoid hobbling their show due to the absence of writers, it’s possible they’ll place booze at attendees’ tables. A few bottles of single-malt scotch strategically placed by the hand of Harrison Ford might well create bytes and buzz. That’s the stuff that gave us “… that cocky little punk who thinks he can take me. Yeah, I’m talking to you, LaBeouf. I crapped bigger than you during the commercial break. Twice.”

With that possibility in mind, both the Globes and the Oscars look somewhat less bleak.

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