No Picket’n On Grammys

A week after the producers of the Grammys requested an interim agreement to allow Hollywood writers to work at the February 10th telecast, the Writers Guild of America still hadn’t said yea or nay – but they did agree not to picket the 50th anniversary of the show.

"We are pleased with the decision made by the WGA today," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy, which owns the rights to the Grammys but doesn’t produce the show. "In light of this, we are gratified that the 50th Annual Grammy Awards will focus solely on the great music, artists and charitable work resulting from our show. We look forward to unveiling the exciting lineup of artists who will give our worldwide audience one of the most memorable Grammy shows ever."

The WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers also announced January 22nd that the two sides would start informal discussions the following day in the hopes of returning to negotiations and ending the nearly three-month strike.

Contract talks were last ended December 7th when the writers refused to drop six issues, including calls for the unionization of reality and animation shows.

On January 22nd union executives Michael Winship and Patric Verrone said in an e-mail to members that those two issues would be withdrawn to "make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations."

The central contract issues are compensation for movie and TV projects distributed over the Internet – both programs produced for distribution on the Internet and downloaded TV programs and movies.

According to the WGA’s Web site, both sides have agreed not to make any public comments about the informal discussions until those discussions have concluded.

Whether or not the WGA gives writers the A-OK to work the night of the Grammys, the producers of the award show and the recording industry are glad there won’t be a picket line outside of the show to keep stars away.

The strike and the picket line outside the Golden Globes and the subsequent celebrity-free one-hour show cost the ceremony 70 percent of their TV audience and NBC millions in ad revenue.

The recording industry is counting on viewers tuning in to the Grammys for a needed boost in revenue because the award show often increases sales for winners, nominees and other performers featured on the show.

According to the Los Angeles Times, after the Dixie Chicks won five Grammys last year, their CD sales increased 700 percent.

"It is an industry in a time of need," Portnow told the Times. "And it needs this show."