Guild says it won't picket Grammy Awards

By | January 23, 2008 at 2:06 AM

The striking Hollywood writers guild said Tuesday it will refrain from picketing the upcoming Grammy Awards, possibly allowing the music ceremony to escape the fate of the wrecked Golden Globes show. The guild’s board of directors has yet to grant the music industry show a waiver that would allow union writers to work on the ceremony, but the Grammys typically depend more on performances than scripted lines or comedy.

The guild previously said it was unlikely to grant the Recording Academy a waiver for the Feb. 10 show, the music industry’s most important event, set to be broadcast live on CBS from Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The writers guild refused to grant a waiver for the Golden Globes and threatened to picket, and the Screen Actors Guild encouraged its stars to stay away as well. As a result, the typically lavish three-hour televised awards extravaganza was reduced to a half-hour, celebrity-free newscast on Jan. 13.

Its audience dropped by 70 percent compared to last year, NBC lost millions in ad revenue, and Globe organizers had to forgo a reported $6 million license fee.

Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said his organization was pleased with the decision not to picket and added the awards “will focus solely on the great music, artists and charitable work resulting from our show.”

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which represents actors, singers, dancers and others, also lauded the decision.

AFTRA President Roberta Reardon called the awards “a crucial platform for the Recording Academy’s ongoing efforts to protect and advance the rights of musical artists.”

Portnow had insisted the Grammys would continue no matter what – and Beyonce and the Foo Fighters announced they still plan to perform at the event. There had been speculation that some musicians would sit out a picketed broadcast, especially top-level pop superstars who are also actors.

The decision against picketing the Grammys was made during a union board meeting on Monday, guild spokesman Neal Sacharow told The decision was disclosed on the same day nominees were announced for next month’s Academy Awards, which also is threatened by the writers strike. The guild has said it would not grant a waiver for the Oscars, the film industry’s biggest promotional showcase.

Guild waivers were granted for this Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards and the NAACP Image Awards, held earlier this month.

A guild official cited the historic role the civil rights group has played in labor struggles in explaining the reason for the Image Awards waiver.

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