In the wake of Monday’s announced cancellation of the Golden Globes big awards show, industry observers have been asking how other awards events, including the UK’s BAFTAS, will be affected.
Although the Oscars are the big event of the awards season, The Orange British Academy Film Awards have seen an increasing profile internationally.
This year’s BAFTAs are scheduled for Feb 10, with a prime time broadcast on terrestrial TV through the BBC, and with the Globes scaled down to a press conference, industry watchers are now looking to the BAFTAs more intently.
Speaking Tuesday, BAFTA organisers expressed cautious optimism that their event won’t be caught up in the Writers Guild of America strike turmoil seen across the pond.
‘Neither BAFTA nor our broadcaster (the BBC) is in dispute with the Writers Guild of America; whilst we hope for the sake of the whole international industry that the dispute is resolved, we look forward to recognising and rewarding great film-making talent from around the world at our ceremony,’ Amanda Berry, Chief Executive of BAFTA, commented today.
Other BAFTA veterans weren’t willing to go on the record about this year’s awards.
Outside the halls of BAFTA’s Piccadilly headquarters, others in the UK industry were less sanguine.
‘If the WGA were to get its act together and picket the BAFTAs, who would cross a picket line’ I don’t imagine that things will be resolved quickly enough for that not to be an issue,’ one senior film publicist told ScreenDaily.com. The publicist pointed out that the BAFTAs are the UK’s pre-eminent award ceremony and that it is attracting ever more attention from the international press.
‘Picketing the event would therefore generate plenty of coverage. ‘That would be a viable alternative, to make a firm and evident protest,’ the publicist suggested.
It is still clearly too early to predict what impact (if any), the WGA strike could have on the BAFTAs. Still, as one source puts it, you can’t blame BAFTA for worrying. ‘These are revenue streams, these red carpets. That is a pretty scary thought for the people who mind the purses.’
UK producer Paul Webster, who has awards season contenders this year Atonement and Eastern Promises, is hopeful that even if the WGA targets the Oscars, it won’t go for the BAFTAs. ‘As to whether the strike will impact the BAFTAs, that would require the support of the UK guilds saying they see this as a targeted event. As such, I think it would be unlikely but there is no knowing what lengths would be gone to in order to achieve maximum impact for the strikers. I think it is highly unlikely the BBC (broadcasters of the BAFTAs) will be targeted by the WGA. If that was the case, I would think that certain individuals would be losing their sanity.’
Given the waivers that have already been given to other award shows like the Screen Actors Guild (several of which are also televised), BAFTA organisers expect that their show will go ahead as planned.
The WGA’s intention for picketing the Globes was not against organisers the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, but its ongoing debate with US broadcaster NBC.
BAFTA is understood not to have had any direct contact with the WGA.
However, Anne Hogben, Deputy General Secretary, of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, stated Tuesday that the WGGB had no intention of picketing the BAFTA film awards.
‘If anything, I would expect the BAFTAs to get more attention than they normally do,’ Hogben commented. ‘We see no reason whatsoever why we should protest at the BAFTAs. It is a way of promoting British films that are written by British screenwriters.’
Hogben added that if the WGA strike is still going on at the time of the BAFTAs, the event could provide a perfect platform for US actors attending to express their support of the WGA.
The WGGB has expressed strong support for the WGA, staging a rally in support of the American writers at TUC headquarters in London late last year.
Several WGGB members - not to mention many other UK writers - are also part of the WGA, among them Christopher Hampton, screenwriter for the awards frontrunner Atonement.
What remains to be seen is that with the scaled-back Golden Globes providing less of a big draw, if US A-list stars will choose to grace the BAFTA red carpet instead.