Striking Hollywood union weighs Grammys show plea

Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:58pm EST
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By Steve Gorman and Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After yanking the red carpet out from under the Golden Globes and threatening the Oscars, the union for striking Hollywood writers is deciding whether to picket the U.S. music industry's highest honors.

Grammy organizers have asked the Writers Guild of America for a strike waiver enabling the 50th annual edition of the music awards to go on as usual with union writers and without pickets, WGA officials said on Tuesday.

But union leaders expressed doubt that they would grant the Grammy request. The decision rests with the WGA's governing board, the union said.

"I wouldn't bet on a waiver, as much as we hate to see artists not get their recognition," WGA spokesman Jeff Hermanson told Reuters.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which sponsors the Grammys, issued a statement urging the WGA to reach an accord with producers of the ceremony but insisted the show would go on with or without the WGA's blessing.

"Those in the music and creative industry depend upon the annual proceeds from the Grammy Awards telecast to fund a whole variety of worthwhile programs, such as our MusiCares Foundation," recording academy president Neil Portnow said in the statement. "Accordingly, all preparations for (the show) remain in full swing."

The 2008 Grammy telecast on CBS is set to air live on February 10 from the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles and is considered a "struck" production by the WGA, which launched its strike against film and TV studios on November 5.

While the Grammys largely consist of musical performances and winners taking the stage to give acceptance speeches, much of the introductory remarks and banter by presenters is normally prepared in advance by union writers, who would be barred from working on the show.   Continued...

<p>Actors Christina Ricci and Samuel L. Jackson attend the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in this February 11, 2007 file photo. Writers Guild of America spokesman Gregg Mitchell said Monday that Grammy organizers have not asked for a special waiver to allow union writers to work on the telecast but added that such a request likely would be denied. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>