The Golden Globes, which were scheduled to be presented Sunday, January 13, mark the start of the award season in Hollywood. But the two-month-old Hollywood writers' strike has brought a change of plans, as we hear from Mike O'Sullivan in Los Angeles.
Last year, the Golden Globe awards drew a long list of top Hollywood stars as both recipients and presenters. Twenty million viewers tuned in to watch. This year, the event will be pared down to a one-hour news conference, a change announced after many stars said they would refuse to cross the picket lines of striking writers.
"It's kind of like somebody canceling the senior prom last minute," said Actress Nikki Blonsky, a Golden Globe nominee for the musical Hairspray. "You've got your dress, you've got your jewelry, your shoes, your hair and makeup appointment booked."
The Golden Globes are presented by a group of about 85 foreign reporters in Hollywood. While some critics question the value of the awards, they get plenty of attention, and critics admit the show is entertaining. Angelina Jolie and Denzel Washington had been expected to appear. Other nominees include George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Cate Blanchett and Johnny Depp.
The Golden Globes can also be indicators of likely winners at the Oscars. Those honors from the motion picture academy, the highlight of the year in Hollywood, are scheduled for February 24. The Oscar award show is also in doubt. The Writers Guild of America has refused to grant a waiver to let its writers work on the show, but Gil Cates, who produces the broadcast, says the Oscars will go ahead in one form or another.
At least one award show is on track. The Screen Actors Guild has reached an agreement with writers to keep its presentation of acting awards January 27 on the air. The Critics' Choice Awards went ahead as scheduled Monday because its writers are not covered by a Writers Guild contract.
The writers strike began November 5. Talks broke down last month over the question of payment for entertainment that is distributed over the Internet. Writers and producers have no new talks scheduled.
The writers have made some small gains. United Artists, which is partly owned by actor Tom Cruise, has reached an agreement with the Writers Guild that allows writers to work on its movies. Writers have also reached an agreement with late-night talk show host David Letterman. Late-night hosts Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel are doing their shows without writers, and comics Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were back on the air Monday, also without writers.
But production is on hold for many in Hollywood. Actor Christian Clemenson, who has an ongoing role in the television series Boston Legal, hopes for a resolution.
"You know, I'm a union member," he said. "My sympathies have to be with the writers, ultimately. But I just hope it ends. I think that everyone in Hollywood hopes it ends."
Veteran Hollywood publicist Warren Cowan says the effects of the strike are rippling through the local economy. Cowan has represented many of Hollywood's top stars, including Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. He says many less famous names make up the industry and are being hurt.
"It affects caterers and PR companies and networks and advertisers and move studios," he said. "What no one has mentioned, of course, is that the strike and the cancellation of shows like the Golden Globes affects the fans."
He says he hopes both sides in the dispute can reach a compromise in time for the Oscars.
One economist says the strike has so far cost the Los Angeles economy $1.4 billion.