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Potential End to Writers' Strike Buoys Hopes for Full-Fledged Oscars

Striking Hollywood writers could return to work this week to end a three-month strike that has crippled film and television production. The news raises hopes that the Academy Awards, or Oscars, may go ahead as planned February 24. Mike O'Sullivan reports, the first Oscars of the season have already been awarded for scientific and technical achievements.

The threat of picket lines reduced the Golden Globe awards January 13 to a short news conference. But the Oscars are the highlight of the year in Hollywood, and the motion picture academy, which presents the honors, had dual plans this year -- one for a full-fledged gala and the other for a show with few of the winners attending.

At the academy's so-called Sci-Tech Awards Saturday, actress Jessica Alba congratulated engineers and scientists, and academy president Sid Ganis was smiling.

"I'm smiling not because I'm absolutely positive that the show that we wish to put on is going to happen, but I think we're getting really close now," said Ganis.

He had more reason to smile Sunday when the East and West Coast boards of the Writers Guild of America approved a tentative contract, and authorized a vote by members on the proposed agreement and a separate 48-hour vote on whether to end the strike. If the writers choose to end it, they could be back at work on Wednesday.

The dispute centered on fees for work that is streamed on the Internet.

At the Sci-Tech presentation, the motion picture academy presented the first two Oscars of the season. The Eastman Kodak Company received one for developing technologies for a widely used film stock. David Grafton earned an Oscar for creating lenses used to shoot classic scenes for Star Wars and other films.

Certificates and plaques were given out for computer programs that simulate water flow, tiny devices that spew fog, and transfers used by makeup artists to simulate tattoos, bruises and wounds on the skin of actors. Sid Ganis said the presentation is an important part of the Hollywood calendar.

"We're the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and this is the night for the science guys, the men and women who are -- it's not an overstated word when I say geniuses in our business, who create the technology that allows the movie industry to be what it is," said Ganis.

Ganis says with luck, writers and other creative people in Hollywood will be on hand for the second installment of the Oscars.