The Big Question: As the Golden Globes are cancelled, who's winning in the writers' strike?

Why are we asking this now?

Nine weeks into a strike that has brought film and television production ever closer to a standstill, Hollywood's writers have just pulled off their biggest propaganda coup to date sabotaging the glittery Golden Globes award show scheduled for this coming Sunday. The writers announced almost a month ago that they were picketing the event and most likely the Oscars as well and the actors' union quickly made clear that its members would not cross any picket lines in solidarity.

So, how have the organisers reacted?

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association the improbably influential collection of mostly freelance entertainment journalists which runs the Globes finally announced this week that it was replacing the red carpet and formal dinner at the Beverly Hilton hotel with a bare-bones news conference to unveil the winners. And NBC, the network with exclusive rights to the event, decided that it would go ahead and televise the announcements in the hope of spotting a celebrity or two in the hotel lobby. That hope started dwinding almost immediately studio after studio is now cancelling the parties they had originally planned in and around the Beverly Hilton after the ceremony. No point, after all, in throwing a celebrity bash if no celebrities show up.

What effect will the cancellation have?

In objective terms, it's not the most significant development of the walk-out, but it is the one generating the most ink. In a town that lives off buzz, that's no small feat. It means the writers and the actors are still united and still hanging tough. It means NBC facing the prospect of life without its staple diet of scripted dramas and comedies as the writers' stoppage continues is so desperate for fresh programming that it is prepared to devote several hours of prime Sunday-night airtime to a complete non-entity reading out a list from behind a podium. It means the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will be losing a significant chunk of its usual cash cow based on licensing rights, which are in turn based on advertising revenue for which nobody should express the remotest sympathy. And it means the studios will lose a valuable promotional tool to push their prestige titles films like Atonement and No Country For Old Men and Sweeney Todd which rely on the awards season hype to put bums on cinema seats.

Is this going to be a red carpet-free year?

Not quite. A few of the lesser shows will go on as normal. On Monday night, the Critics' Choice awards not an event ever governed by Writers Guild rules went ahead at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Last night, the equally obscure People's Choice awards were also due to proceed as normal. The Screen Actors Guild, with the writers' blessing, will pull out all the stops next month to celebrate the achievements of its own members. But that's about the extent of the opportunities for celebrity designer dress spotting in 2008.

How significant a figure in the strike is George Clooney?

Not very. The Sunday Times reported last weekend that Clooney was being seen as a major force behind the actors' decision not to participate in the Golden Globes or the Oscars but his publicist dismissed the story as "100 per cent false". Clooney is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild, and the Directors Guild and supports the strike. But he isn't directly involved in organising or negotiating anything.

At Monday's Critics' Choice awards, Clooney made clear he was in favour of resolution, not provocation. "Our hope," he said, "is that all the players will lock themselves in a room and not come out until they are done." Daniel Day Lewis, who was named best actor for his role as an unscrupulous oil baron in There Will Be Blood, joked: "It's moments like this that I wish that George Clooney was my speech writer. You haven't a spare speech that I can borrow, have you?"

Are the writers focused just on awards shows?

Far from it. Indeed, their most significant achievement of the week was not to bring an awards show to a halt but rather to negotiate a deal with United Artists, the semi-autonomous production unit under the MGM umbrella which is run by Tom Cruise and his producing partner, Paula Wagner. The deal applies to UA and UA only MGM itself is still off-limits for Writers Guild members. Neither side has gone public with details of the deal, but it marks the biggest triumph to date in the writers' strategy of divide and conquer, which they began to adopt after their last round of negotiations with the studios collapsed in the middle of last month.

Both the Writers Guild and UA issued statements welcoming the deal, while the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers, representing the studios, spilled pure bile. "These interim agreements are sideshows," the AMPTP raged. "In the end, until the people in charge at WGA decide to focus on the main event rather than these sideshows, the economic harm being caused by the strike will continue."

Why is the dispute proving so nasty?

To recap: the writers have drawn a line in the sand because they feel they were cheated out of their due from video sales and rentals, starting in the early 1980s, and don't want to acquiesce again now over online and other new media distribution outlets. The producers, meanwhile, regard the writers with ill-disguised contempt and appear to have decided to sit out the strike for as long as it takes in the hope of breaking the union and of taking advantage of the dispute to engineer a radical rethink of network television, whose fortunes have been sliding ever since the advent of cable and satellite.

Where does it all go from here?

The studios want to strike a quick deal with the Directors Guild, whose own contract is up in June, and then use those terms as a weapon to demoralise, divide and defeat both the writers and the actors. The directors are less militant than the other two guilds, and in fact have initiated pre-talks with studio representatives.

The studios are unlikely to talk to the writers again until March; the writers, meanwhile, hope they can survive, economically speaking, until June when there is a chance that the actors, facing the same contract deadline as the directors, will follow them out on strike. At that point Hollywood will be looking either at the biggest shutdown, or if the guilds cave in at the biggest labour disaster in its history.

Will the scriptwriters get what they want?


* They know their future, and the future of organised labour in Hollywood, depends on their standing firm. That's what they're doing

* They have public sympathy on their side; of course they deserve a fair share of profits from shows and films they've helped create

* Their divide-and-conquer strategy is working and will eventually break the power of News Corp, Viacom, Time Warner et al


* The studios know it is just a matter of time before the economic pressure causes the writers to split and, eventually, to crack

* Once a deal with the Directors Guild is sealed, the writers and actors will have no option but to accept similar terms

* Writers always lose labour disputes in Hollywood, and fatalism will eat them up, probably sooner rather than later

sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
Out and about: for 'Glee' character Bert Hummel, having a gay son was a learning curve
lifeEven 'cool' parents need help parenting gay teens
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible