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Grammys strike chord with WGA

Guild won't grant waiver for awards show

The Feb. 10 Grammys kudocast is the latest awards show thrown into confusion by the writers strike.

The WGA indicated Monday that it won’t grant a waiver for the CBS telecast. And it told the Screen Actors Guild that attendees will have to cross a picket line at the Staples Center to attend the kudos if the strike is still on.

“The WGA has informed us that this is struck work, and they expect to have a picket line in place,” a SAG spokesman said. “In those circumstances, our members have been unwilling to cross a picket line, and we anticipate that solidarity will continue.”

The Writers Guild of America’s refusal to grant a waiver for Sunday’s Golden Globes led to the event being truncated into a news conference after all nominees in acting categories vowed they would not cross a WGA picket line. The WGA has called off its own Feb. 9 awards show, and the fate of the Feb. 24 Oscarcast remains muddled, with the guild indicating last month that it will not grant a waiver if one is requested.

WGA spokesman Gregg Mitchell said Monday that the Recording Academy has not asked the WGA for a waiver or interim agreement for the Grammys. “While no guild decision has yet been made regarding the Grammys, if a waiver is requested for the Grammys, it is unlikely to be granted,” he added.

It’s unclear how much of an impact a WGA picket line would have, but the kudocast will have to make do without the usual 10-20 actors who usually serve as presenters. Last year, for example, Quentin Tarantino, Luke Wilson, Nicolas Cage, Terrence Howard, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Rock and David Spade appeared on the show.

This year also has a substantial number of nominated musicians who have appeared in films and on TV. Chief among them are Justin Timberlake, Queen Latifah, Tim McGraw, Beyonce, Jack White, Jon Bon Jovi, T.I. and Fantasia. Among the nominees who have historically not crossed picket lines are Bruce Springsteen, the Beastie Boys, Joni Mitchell, John Mellencamp and Steve Earle.

The strike could also affect the show’s script. For this year’s 50th anniversary edition of the Grammys, the Recording Academy would like to present a show with a number of historical packages, which would require a writing staff. Producer Ken Ehrlich and journalist David Wild, who wrote a Grammys 50th anni book, have written recent editions of the show.

Unlike other awards shows, the Grammycast is heavy on performances; only about a dozen of the 100-plus trophies awarded are handed out onscreen during the 3½-hour show.

Nominees and the Recording Academy have been in a bit of a holding pattern since the beginning of the year, according to representatives for nominated artists and their labels. In some cases, managers have delayed accepting an invite to perform on the show until there is greater clarity. The Recording Academy traditionally starts announcing who will be performing about three weeks before the kudocast.