At the annual nominees’ luncheon at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Monday, the usually congenial Mr. Ganis gave the assembled actors and filmmakers something of a lecture. But it was a sweetly diplomatic one — about the importance of keeping Oscar night on track, even if striking screenwriters picket the ceremony.
While noting hopeful signs in talks between writers and production companies, Mr. Ganis said, “Regardless of those circumstances, which are beyond our control, we will be presenting the awards as scheduled.”
A film producer and former studio chief who generally favors the soft pedal, Mr. Ganis stopped short of telling the nominees that they really ought to show up for the ceremony, which is scheduled to be broadcast by ABC on Feb. 24.
“It would be such a terrible shame if, through no fault of yours and no fault of ours, the current conditions prevented us from shining that brightest possible light” on the very people who were gathered at the luncheon to bask in what he called their “nominee-ness.”
And to bolster his point with a little humor, Mr. Ganis displayed an official certificate of nomination that read, “Must be present to win.”
During the lightly lubricated lunch (sushi and elaborate salads to go with the open bar), Mr. Ganis spoke in front of several hundred people, including actors like Hal Holbrook and Casey Affleck; directors like Tony Gilroy and Michael Moore; producers like Scott Rudin; and executives like Robert A. Iger, who is the chief executive of the Walt Disney Company.The mood was lighter than it might have been just last week, given reports that writers and production companies have tiptoed close to an agreement that could end a three-month strike by the Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild of America East before Oscar night.
Within the striking guilds a ferocious debate has divided writers into two groups: those who would grant the Oscars a truce in order to use the ceremony as a bully pulpit, and those who would inflict damage on the studios, and ABC, by chasing celebrities away from the show.
The threat of pickets wrecked last month’s Golden Globes ceremony. The usual red carpet fashion procession and scenes of supping celebrities were replaced by an elaborate, and star-free, news conference after actors — prodded by the Screen Actors Guild — boycotted the show.
A rapid end to the labor dispute would let the academy turn its attention back to its annual fight against windy acceptance speeches. At Monday’s lunch, however, Mr. Ganis’s own remarks clocked in at nine minutes.
While I personnally support the writers, I really want the Oscars to take place... I hope they'll settle this before Feb. 24!