January 11, 2008 / 12:31 AM / 11 years ago

Striking screenwriters cancel own awards show

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Striking film and television writers on Thursday canceled their own awards dinner, becoming the latest casualty in the ongoing labor dispute with Hollywood producers.

Members of the Writers Guild of America carry picket signs as the strike against television and film producers continues, at an entrance to the NBC television network studios in Burbank, California January 8, 2008. Striking film and television writers on Thursday canceled their own annual awards dinner, saying that no show honoring the best screenplays of 2007 will be held until their labor action has ended. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

The Writers Guild of America, West, which is the Los Angeles-based wing of the guild that represents some 10,500 writers, had planned to announce winners of awards for film and television screenplays on February 9, but said in a brief statement that its awards gala would not be held until the strike ended.

The cancellation came on the same day the WGA unveiled nominees for its widely followed awards that often indicate which movies and screenplays will vie for Oscars, the world’s top film honors given out in late February by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

A WGA spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

The guild on November 5 launched its strike against members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents major studios, in a contract dispute that hinges on how writers will be paid for work distributed on the Internet.

The walkout has thrown the TV industry into disarray, derailed movie productions and is fast spoiling the annual awards season because writers are vowing to set up picket lines outside ceremonies and actors are refusing to cross them.

Already the People’s Choice Awards was transformed from a typical awards gala, where actors and actresses accept awards on stage in a live ceremony, to a magazine-style format that offered only pre-taped interviews. It drew only about 6 million viewers, or about one-half the audience of last year.

This coming Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards were canceled in favor of a news conference announcing award winners.


Meanwhile, the WGA announced nominees for its annual awards, which are a key stop on the road to Oscars because many WGA members also vote on the Academy Awards.

The writers favored comedies such as teen pregnancy movie “Juno” for original screenplays and dark dramas like grim crime thriller “No Country for Old Men” for scripts adapted from other material.

Joining “Juno,” written by newcomer Diablo Cody, was relationship comedy “Knocked Up,” a summer box office smash penned by Judd Apatow.

Also nominated for original screenplay were “The Savages,” about a pair of siblings who care for their elderly father written by Tamara Jenkins, and “Lars and the Real Girl,” from Nancy Oliver about a man whose girlfriend is a sex doll. Both movies have dramatic and comedic elements in their stories.

The fifth nominee in the original screenplay group was legal thriller “Michael Clayton,” written by Tony Gilroy.

In the category for best adapted screenplay, “No Country” scored nominations for brothers Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, and it was joined by another tale about the dark side of human nature, “There Will Be Blood,” from Paul Thomas Anderson.

Along with those were “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” about a French journalist who dictates a book by blinking his eye written by Ronald Harwood, “Into the Wild,” about a young man’s adventure of self-discovery in the wilderness from Sean Penn, and serial killer thriller “Zodiac” by James Vanderbilt.

Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Eric Walsh

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