That whooshing sound you heard Wednesday was the collective sigh of relief emanating from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, whose Golden Globes ceremony on January 11 is now spared by the timing of the Screen Actor Guild's strike authorization voting. The Oscars? Mmm, not so much.
SAG leadership has notified its members that ballots will be mailed on January 2. Those votes will be tabulated at Integrity Voting Systems in Everett, Wash., on January 23, the day after Oscar nominations are announced. The Golden Globes are scheduled for January 11 and the Oscars on February 22.
The measure, if passed, would give the guild's national board of directors the authority to call a strike following a lengthy stalemate in contract talks with the studios. At least 75 percent of those voting would have to respond "yes" for the measure to pass.
With the annual SAG Awards airing January 25 on TNT, a quick tally would allow the leadership to use the public forum for any further proselytizing pursuant to the vote's results.
Additionally, the guild leadership held bicoastal meetings Wednesday with representatives of the PR and management communities to inform them of the status of negotiations and the strike authorization. One person at the Los Angeles meeting said that the 30 or so attendees represented all of the major PR firms and several boutiques.
According to this observer, the SAG reps used the two-hour forum to explain the purpose of the authorization vote and the history of its use in other SAG labor disputes but did not discuss any potential boycott actions that could involve the reps' talent clients or awards ceremonies.
The Oscars would symbolize a kind of nuclear option should the guild persuade its members not to show up. A spokesperson for the Academy said it is committed to presenting the Oscars as scheduled.
Last year's Globes ceremony was reduced to a news conference by the actors' offscreen support of the writers strike. Though the WGA contract resolution occurred in time to spare the Oscars, the show's producers were desperately preparing a Plan B that would consist mostly of a clip history of the show.
The two sides in the labor dispute — SAG and the companies, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — have been at an impasse since July. The participation of a federal mediator in October and November did not bring about a resolution.