Grammys Seek Agreement Allowing Use of Writers
LOS ANGELES – Producers of the Grammy Awards have requested an interim agreement that would allow striking Hollywood writers to work on next month's telecast, The Recording Academy said Tuesday.
Writers Guild of America spokesman Gregg Mitchell said the request was referred to the board of the union's West Coast branch for a decision. He said earlier in the day, however, that a deal "is unlikely to be granted."
The situation raised question about the fate of the Feb. 10 Grammys ceremony, set for live broadcast by CBS.
The writers guild refused to grant a waiver for last weekend's Golden Globe Awards and threatened to picket that event. Actors were advised by their union to stay away from the ceremony, prompting Globes organizers to replace the normally glitzy telecast with a scaled-down news conference lacking stars, glamour and ad revenue.
Next month's Academy Awards could face the same fate.
The Recording Academy said it remained hopeful that there would be a quick and positive response to its request involving the 50th annual Grammy Awards show.
"We will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that a program so vital to our industry, artists, charitable beneficiaries, and the great city of Los Angeles is held as planned," said the statement by Neil Portnow, president and chief executive of The Recording Academy, which owns all rights to the Grammy telecast but does not produce the show.
The academy said it supports efforts by Cossette Productions, which produces the Grammys, to reach an interim agreement with writers such as the one previously made with Worldwide Pants, which makes David Letterman's late-night show.
Earlier in the day, the guild said it would allow its members to work on the NAACP Image Awards and would not picket the Feb. 14 show at the Shrine Auditorium.
The awards presented by the National association for the Advancement of Colored People honor those who promote diversity in the arts. Awards in 44 categories, including movies, TV and literature, will be presented in the ceremony broadcast live on Fox.
"Because of the historic role the NAACP has played in struggles like ours, we think this decision is appropriate to jointly achieve our goals," guild leader Patric Verrone said at a news conference.
The writers guild said it had not yet decided whether to picket the upcoming Grammys ceremony.
Screen Actors Guild spokeswoman Pamela Greenwalt said her union's members "have been unwilling to cross a picket line and we anticipate that solidarity will continue."
In a joint statement, the American Federation of Musicians and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists stressed that events surrounding the telecast of the Grammys help fund educational, charitable and advocacy activities of The Recording Academy.
The statement urged members to participate in Grammy events but also "express support for our ongoing efforts to ensure that musical artists and creative talent receive fair compensation for their work in digital media."
Members were also encouraged to show support for writers.
The American Federation of Musicians represents performers at the Grammys as well as many of the recording artists honored. Other participants are members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
In a separate development, production and distribution company Spyglass Entertainment reached an interim deal with the writers guild allowing Spyglass to resume production, company co-chairman Gary Barber said.
Barber would not disclose further details. Mitchell, who represents the guild, said he could not confirm the agreement.
The writers guild previously struck deals with Worldwide Pants, United Artists, The Weinstein Co. and independent studio Media Rights Capital.
Meanwhile, four major studios said they had canceled dozens of writers' contracts in a possible concession that the current television season cannot be saved, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The deals were terminated by 20th Century Fox Television, CBS Paramount Network Television, NBC Universal and Warner Bros.