The Golden Globes paid a steep price last year when the 14-week writers strike prevented the award show from going on. The possibility of another strike, this time by the Screen Actors Guild, whose contract expired this summer, would be devastating to the Globes, which had to announce winners last year at a televised news conference rather than at an award gala. And then there's the Oscars. Can you imagine a Hollywood that didn't get to walk that red carpet? Ugly, isn't it? The timing for picket lines just couldn't be worse considering the current state of the economy, making the subject even more of a hot-button issue. But what would a strike really mean in layman's terms? Who might benefit and who might suffer in the event of a walkout?
-- Nicole LaPorte
If actors refuse to show up at the Oscars -- not to mention all the other award bashes, such as the Golden Globes and the SAG awards -- must the show go on? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should consider bringing in reality TV hosts as presenters. It worked so well for the Emmys, after all. Or judges. Simon Cowell? ("Your performance was a bit cabaret.") Heidi Klum? ("Congratulations -- you are in!") Gordon Ramsay? ("Take off your jacket and get out of this ceremony.").
Big summer movies are being raced into production by studios desperate to put some tent poles on their slates before any picket lines commence. But if a strike cuts off these goliaths mid-shoot, summer audiences may be force-fed some unfinished popcorn entertainment. Instead of sitting down to "Iron Man 2" in the summer of 2010, moviegoers may have to get by with "Iron Man 1 1/2 ."
Agencies, studios and just about everyone else in Hollywood
A strike doesn't mean just tough times for the 120,000 members of SAG. Agencies, production companies, studios and networks will all be crippled by the work stoppage, as will below-the-line workers. The crunch will be particularly felt considering that the industry has barely recovered from the writers strike and hasn't yet fully absorbed the tsunami of the credit crunch.
Picketing actors will inevitably mean more reality TV, just when it seemed the networks had tapped out their resources ("The Bachelor" is in its 12th season). For lack of any fresh ideas, expect painful hybrids: "My Big Redneck Extreme Makeover," "Tom Bergeron's My New BFF," "Dancing With the Real Housewives of Orange County."
Film and much of television may be verboten for striking actors, but for thespians seeking an outlet there's always the Internet. Keep your eyes peeled for cameos by Judi Dench and Philip Seymour Hoffman in the next Diet Coke and Mentos video popping up on YouTube. Webisodes, which thrived during the writers strike, will also become the platform du jour.
With out-of-work actors spending more time in Starbucks and window-shopping on Melrose, the shooters are in for a gold rush. But if a strike were to go on for too long, the photogs of the famous will soon be stalking their unemployed prey at more downscale venues. Dunkin' Donuts coffee, anyone?
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
Long considered a lesser union than the all-powerful SAG, a SAG strike will give AFTRA, which represents game shows, soap operas and many non-scripted cable shows, far more leverage. Television pilots will be more likely to sign AFTRA contracts so that they can go into production even with a strike, increasing AFTRA's already growing hold on prime-time TV.
What better time for an actor to slip away for a few days and get that long-delayed tummy tuck or nose tweak than when he or she is guaranteed to not have to deal with cameras for a prolonged stretch? Beverly Hills surgeons: Clear your calendars; the calls could start any day now.
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