Shrugs generally greeted questions about the effect of the writers strike on the Oscar telecast as Academy officials continue to develop a kudoscast without scribes.

“A month is a long time way — look at Iowa,” said Gil Cates, producer of this year’s Oscars, referring to the presidential primaries. “There will be lots of clips — we have a long history, 80 years, to explore.”

Until the announcement of the nominations, Cates and his crew had been working on the set design and construction, hiring musicians and other backstage personnel. Work on production numbers and film packages begins today, he said. Academy officials shared Cates’ enthusiasm if not his optimism, speculating that the show will be heavy on clips and low on star power if the writers strike is still in force on Feb. 24. One acad exec expressed uncertainty on exactly how much can be done on the show without violating the Writers Guild of America pact.

The ABC telecast will be able to use clips of films, but instead of being free, “they’ll be costing us a lot” the exec said.