Don’t schedule any free time for February: The final pieces are in place for the kudocast schedule next year.

On Monday, the Writers Guild of America announced that its 56th annual awards show will be held on Saturday, Feb. 21, only eight days before the Academy Awards. The Producers Guild of America also unveiled the date for its 14th annual show: Saturday, Jan. 17, at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

The WGA West hasn’t yet announced its venue. For the past several years, the ceremony’s been held at the Beverly Hilton.

The WGA and PGA dates are the last to be announced for the 2004 awards season. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences sent other orgs and the guilds scrambling to find dates when it announced that it would move the Oscar ceremonies to Feb. 29, a month earlier than usual.

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PGA Awards Jan. 17 Golden Globes Jan. 25
Final Oscar ballots Feb. 4 DGA Awards Feb. 7
BAFTA Feb. 15 ACE Awards Feb. 15
WGA Awards Feb. 21 SAG Awards Feb. 22
MPSE Awards Feb. 28 IFP Spirit Awards Feb. 28


“I think it makes it more exciting and intense for us to be that much closer to the Oscars,” said WGA West prexy Victoria Riskin. “There aren’t that many available slots, so it’s been a bit of a chess game for us to find the right date.”

The compressed season will see Oscar nomination ballots mailed Jan. 2 — only two days after the last qualifying film has opened. Oscar ballots will be due back on Jan. 17, the date of the PGA show.

“While the early date does present a host of new challenges for us,” said PGA Awards co-chairs Bruce Cohen and Debra Hill, “we are excited and honored to be the first major awards show of the 2004 season.”

The weeks prior to the Oscar ceremony will be exceptionally busy, with Jan. 25 the closing day for the Sundance Film Festival, the Grammys on Feb. 8 and the BAFTAs on Feb. 15. (So far, no org has skedded an event for Feb. 1, the day of the Super Bowl.)

The DGA has tapped Feb. 7 for its 56th kudos show, while SAG has selected Feb. 22. The IFP Spirit Awards have landed on Feb. 28. AFM is scheduled for Feb. 25-March 3.

Along with the SAG and DGA awards shows, the WGA and PGA awards have traditionally been held either two or three weeks before the Oscars. But officers with the WGA and PGA professed Monday that the date change won’t be problematical.

The WGA’s selection was complicated because boards for the WGA West and WGA East needed to approve the 2004 date. The writers union traditionally holds simultaneous ceremonies for the East in Gotham and the West in Beverly Hills.

Riskin explained that the WGA East prefers a Sunday because of the large number of writers who work on “Saturday Night Live.” She added, “It’s a tough situation because they have different concerns but we were able to work this out while still being respectful of each other.”

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. announced last month that its 61st annual Golden Globe Awards will be held Sunday, Jan. 25, the fourth weekend in January. The Globes traditionally have been slotted for the third Sunday in January but faced the prospect of going up against the NFC championship game in primetime on Jan. 18, 2004.

The early kudos awards often provide reliable indications of Academy sentiment. For example, 10 of the 14 PGA feature winners have gone on to win the best picture Oscar, while 49 of the 55 DGA winners have also taken home the director Oscar.

The WGA also announced Monday that scripts for its TV and radio categories must have been produced under the jurisdiction of the guild and broadcast for the first time between Dec. 1, 2002, and Nov. 30, 2003. Writers may submit no more than one script in any individual category; the submission period is Aug. 11-Oct. 1.

PGA submission deadlines are Oct. 17 for TV series, Nov. 14 for TV longform and Dec. 1 for features. Nominations will be announced Jan. 5.