h’wood on strikeIf the strike doesn’t end before the Oscar ceremony on February 24th, it could stretch well into the second half of the year. That’s the current buzz in Hollywood. And the studios have stepped up, inviting the Writers Guild back to the round table for the first time since communication broke down on December 7th.

Scanning daily trade papers right now is like watching ancient reruns. While the industry awaits progress, reporters continue to speculate on the same issues, over and over: the WGA wants jurisdiction over new media. Will they get it? The WGA wants residuals on new media. Can they get it? The WGA wants jurisdiction over reality and animation programming. Can they accept the fact they probably won’t get it?

Studios dealt an intimidating blow to the writing community early last week, when Warner Bros. TV, CBS Paramount Network TV, 20th Cent. Fox TV and Universal Media Studios dropped the axe on a handful of contracts, officially severing ties with a total of almost 75 writers and producers. While the studios issued statements blaming those cuts on the strike, one WGA rep maintained that, “the responsibility for people losing their jobs or for deals being cut rests solely on the shoulders of the conglomerates that illegally walked out on negotiations December 7.”

But as key reps of the Writers Guild prolong their hard ass approach, some top writers are talking of resigning from the guild, claiming “financial core” status, if the guild rejects the latest and greatest agreements as set forth in the new Directors Guild pact that was established last week. That pact projected a ray of hope in form of a huge breakthrough on the internet residual issue: directors are now slated to receive more than double the amount they made before. More importantly, the residuals for online content will now be calculated based on “distributors gross,” rather than “producers gross” (making it harder for Hollywood accountants to skew the numbers and screw the littler guys).

The general consensus is that without the Writers’ Strike, the DGA never would’ve scored such a fine deal. Now the question is, how fine will the writers find the deal?

Nothing’s etched in stone; the producers alliance have made it very clear that they will not present these new terms on a take-it-or-leave it basis to the WGA. But it’s believed the producers won’t negotiate too far from the terms. Hence, if the Writers Guild stands firm in their conviction to gain jurisdiction over reality TV and animation, things might not iron out before the Oscars.

And the producers of the Oscars have guaranteed the show will go on. They’re planning an “alternate event,” in case no real stars show up or no real writers write the show. But that alternate event would be a last ditch effort to preserve the glamor and glitz and all the money it brings in.

If the strike doesn’t end before Feb. 24th, the 80th Annual Academy Awards are gonna suck. And producers are gonna cry.