Will actors boycott Golden Globes?

Given a new threat by the Writers Guild of America to picket the Golden Globes — following the WGA’s earlier decision to deny a request that would have allowed the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Dick Clark Prods. to hire comedy writers for the telecast — there is growing concern that the actors may show solidarity for the strike by boycotting the Jan. 13 show. So far, the Screen Actors Guild hasn’t stated unequivocally that its members will stay home that night — but it hasn’t necessarily promised they would go, either. In a recent statement, the actors’ union said they “are in the process of reaching out to our elected leadership and members who have been nominated for Golden Globe awards. We will advise regarding our position once we have completed that outreach.”

It seems odd that Hollywood stars and writers would attempt to seriously disable — or flat-out boycott — a show meant to celebrate their achievements (the WGA has also indicated that it wouldn’t give Oscar the permission to hire comedy scribes or run film clips). But it’s understandable given the stakes, says New York labor attorney Lowell Peterson. “A strike is a strike,” says Peterson, a labor and bankruptcy partner from the firm Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein. “The purpose of a strike is to inflict economic pain. Producers depend on the promotional opportunity of these shows. With the WGA standing firm, they show they mean it: They are withholding labor until their demands are met.”

What’s more, Hollywood talents have demonstrated their willingness before to inflict major pain if and when their livelihood is on the line.

Flash back to July 21, 1980, when SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists voted to strike. Hundreds of actors, furious at being cut out of the profits from the hot new home-video industry, walked off their sets and began a 95-day labor dispute that became one of the costliest and most acrimonious in Hollywood history. Amazingly, in the midst of it all, NBC decreed that the 32nd Annual Emmys had to go on anyway. “It didn’t start out bad,” executive producer Ken Ehrlich told EW in 2004. “[NBC president Brandon Tartikoff] said we were going to move on with the show. But then the closer it got, everybody just started getting sick.”

Those illnesses weren’t exactly a surprise. The actors announced their intention to boycott with an ad in the trade papers, signed by 39 of the 52 nominees. Some 80 celebrities stayed home that night, including most of the ones who were supposed to host the event, like Lee Remick, Bob Newhart, and Michael Landon. Dick Clark and Steve Allen were brought in as replacements, while network executives (like Tartikoff) and TV producers (like Police Woman‘s David Gerber) climbed on stage to present awards — more often than not to 8-by-10 glossies of absent winners.

“This is a star-studded audience!” Allen quipped at one point. “Three stars and 14 studs.”

The only truly surprising moment in the three-hour ceremony was when Powers Boothe suddenly appeared on stage to accept his win for Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones. It wasn’t the fact that Boothe won that was so shocking; it was that he was actually there. Clark had to scramble backstage to find a statuette to give him. “This is either the most courageous moment of my career, or the stupidest,” Boothe said on stage.

Viewership — big shocker — hit an all-time low (17 million). Afterward, Ehrlich printed up T-shirts that read “I Survived the 1980 Emmy Awards.” Ironically, he went on to earn Emmy nods himself for producing the Grammys. “You live long enough in this business, there are some things you’d like to forget,” Erlich told EW. “It was some f—ing show.”

Flash back to July 21, 1980, when SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists voted to strike. Hundreds of actors, furious at being cut out of the profits from the hot new home-video industry, walked off their sets and began a 95-day labor dispute that became one of the costliest and most acrimonious in Hollywood history. Amazingly, in the midst of it all, NBC decreed that the 32nd Annual Emmys had to go on anyway. "It didn’t start out bad," executive producer Ken Ehrlich told EW in 2004. "[NBC president Brandon Tartikoff] said we were going to move on with the show. But then the closer it got, everybody just started getting sick."

Those illnesses weren’t exactly a surprise. The actors announced their intention to boycott with an ad in the trade papers, signed by 39 of the 52 nominees. Some 80 celebrities stayed home that night, including most of the ones who were supposed to host the event, like Lee Remick, Bob Newhart, and Michael Landon. Dick Clark and Steve Allen were brought in as replacements, while network executives (like Tartikoff) and TV producers (like Police Woman‘s David Gerber) climbed on stage to present awards — more often than not to 8-by-10 glossies of absent winners.

"This is a star-studded audience!" Allen quipped at one point. "Three stars and 14 studs."

The only truly surprising moment in the three-hour ceremony was when Powers Boothe suddenly appeared on stage to accept his win for Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones. It wasn’t the fact that Boothe won that was so shocking; it was that he was actually there. Clark had to scramble backstage to find a statuette to give him. "This is either the most courageous moment of my career, or the stupidest," Boothe said on stage.

Viewership — big shocker — hit an all-time low (17 million). Afterward, Ehrlich printed up T-shirts that read "I Survived the 1980 Emmy Awards." Ironically, he went on to earn Emmy nods himself for producing the Grammys. "You live long enough in this business, there are some things you’d like to forget," Erlich told EW. "It was some f—ing show."

Comments (17 total) Add your comment
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  • sure

    I bet the SAG won’t stop actors from attending the SAG awards. Double standard much?

  • Pamela

    To sure: I think the WGA has granted a waiver to SAG awards, possibly because actors have been actively supportive of the strike. This waiver does not extend to the Globes or the Oscars though everything could change if negotiations resume in the new year.

  • Carlos

    Of course SAG won’t stop actors from attending the SAG awards – it’s there own awards show. There’s no double standard there.

  • ML

    WHO CARES. Get of the couch and live life. Let the writers and actors go and get real jobs that don’t pay $7500 (and much more for the actors) an episode. What a bunch of bums glad I sold my stock in media company’s!

  • shark

    ML, People choose their professions on the basis of one of three things: What they know; What they like; What it pays. I don’t know how much you make, but why don’t you take a job as a janitor making half of what you do now? You expect others to take a cut in pay because you don’t make that much? What kind of mentality is that? Sounds like jeousley to me. And as for your comment “Who Cares,” Obviously you care or you wouldn’t be reading and commenting on the article.

  • Anonymous

    word!

  • Anonymous

    word!

  • yvonne

    The producers are saving “so much” money. This is one way to get people off the couch and into the theaters!

  • Kevin

    I find myself reading this cuz I’m bored and scanning Google News. The reason that I am writting is, “Why is this news?” Honestly, people, let the stars and their helpers lead their lives. Instead of seeing and reading stories that are truly news-worthy, I look through and see stuff about Brittany Spear’s underwaer (or lack there of), who screwed what, and so forth. Now, a strike, ya that’s news, but why is it something to obsess over? Pay them what they’re worth, or tell them that they’re not worth it and hire someone else.

  • Karn

    @Kevin
    Britney Spears lack of underwear should surely not be in the News, but a strike by the WGA which has a real effect on the entertainment of millions of Americans everyday is real news.

  • Lenora Robinson

    Kevin: Chill.

  • Laura

    oh no- so they won’t accept their awards. Who cares? There are too many award shows as it is – and by not attending- they are only hurting their own movies. Although I do enjoy watching the Oscars- I wouldn’t miss it if it was gone either.

  • JohnT

    The best idea might just be to cancel all the award shows, at least as far as broadcast is concerned. It would save loads of money, and if the organizations concerned would like to indulge themselves with a private, self-congratulatory ceremony, they could rent a ballroom, and those directly concerned could make a decision as to whether or not to attend.

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