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Hollywood Writers Reject Award Shows

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LYNN ELBER | December 18, 2007 07:51 AM EST | AP

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LOS ANGELES — Two of Hollywood's most glamorous events are now caught up in the entertainment industry's ugliest labor dispute in two decades. The Writers Guild of America, West, will not allow its members to write for the Golden Globes on Jan. 13 nor the Academy Awards on Feb. 24.

The group's board of directors decided not to give the academy an interim agreement for writing services, a person close to the guild said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to comment. The person declined to say when the decision had been made.

The guild's decision raised the temperature in the already heated contract dispute between writers and studios. Talks aimed at ending the costly strike, now in its seventh week, broke down Dec. 7 in a flurry of insults that has yet to cease.

After talks ended, the alliance claimed guild leaders were trying to increase their power at the expense of members. Union leaders accused the alliance of "lies" aimed at sowing doubt and dissension in union ranks.

Now the guild is casting the strike shadow over the Oscars, the industry's key showcase for its finest films and hottest actors. The Golden Globes represent another important promotional vehicle.

The guild made a similar move before the 1988 Oscars when writers last walked out on studios. That strike lasted five months.

With the strike drawing support from the Screen Actors Guild, which faces its own contract negotiations next year, actors' participation as Oscar guests and presenters might be affected _ diminishing the star power that drives TV viewership.

Jon Stewart, a writers guild member, was announced as host of this year's Academy Awards, but he has honored the strike: His "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central has been in reruns since the walkout began.

An e-mail sent to Stewart's publicist seeking comment was not immediately returned Monday night.

Several Golden Globe nominees said last week that they hoped to attend the ceremony but might not if the strike remains unresolved.

The guild released a letter on Monday rejecting the request from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which awards the Golden Globes. The letter said that granting a waiver "would not advance" the guild's ongoing battle with studios to negotiate a new contract.

In a separate letter to Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also released Monday, the guild denied the use of clips from movies and past awards programs that could be shown during the award show in February.

The academy had made its standard, annual request for clip use to the writers guild and other relevant industry guilds that must grant approval, spokeswoman Leslie Unger said.

"The academy has not requested any strike-related waiver from the writers guild related to the awards show," she said.

In a statement, the Globe organization expressed measured unhappiness.

"The Golden Globe Awards, which has a long and friendly relationship with the Writers Guild of America, is obviously disappointed that the WGA denied its request for a waiver," the statement.

The strike has shut down production on many TV series, had a growing effect on movie production and idled many industry workers. Networks have seen ratings slip as shows fall into reruns, jeopardizing advertising revenues.

The guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are wrangling over compensation for burgeoning digital media.

NBC was able to crow about the end of late-night reruns Monday, announcing that "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" would return in January with new shows, although without writers.

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AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen contributed to this report.