+ Fiftieth-birthday galas are always a pain to plan, but putting together the Grammys’ half-centennial bash has become particularly thorny, thanks to — what else? — the Writers Guild strike. The good news is that, regardless of WGA participation (which was unclear at press time), organizers are forging ahead with a ceremony for Feb. 10 — not some press conference. A few details about the event are emerging.
+ If the WGA doesn’t allow its writers to pen dialogue for the show, insiders say viewers can expect a banter-light, performance-heavy ceremony. The Foo Fighters are the only act booked so far, but we hear that offers are out to artists like Michael Bublé and Chris Daughtry for what’s shaping up to be a marathon of tributes and duets. Says a source familiar with the bookings: ”It’s been business as usual. Even the parties are still a go.”
+ Hollywood Insider has confirmed that troubled singer Amy Winehouse plans to appear at the Grammys, despite concerns that her legal woes would prevent her from obtaining a visa to enter the country. She’s nominated for six statuettes.
+ If the WGA announces it will picket the event, all eyes will turn to nominees such as Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, and Jon Bon Jovi for guidance. Will these musicians, who are also SAG members, show up? One exec bets that in the end, their music loyalties will win out. ”While artists respect the writers, they will still attend the awards, as the Grammys are a highly coveted celebration.” — Shirley Halperin
+ More shrapnel from the Hollywood writers’ strike: Dozens of scribes learned last week that the lucrative development deals they abandoned on Nov. 5 were gone for good. All of the major TV production companies — ABC Studios, 20th Century Fox TV, Warner Bros. TV, Universal, and CBS/Paramount — were in on the action, terminating the contracts of 70 or so writers. Hardest hit were those on struggling or canceled series, such as the creators of NBC’s Journeyman (Kevin Falls), and Fox’s K-Ville (Lawrence Kaplow). But there were a few surprises as well, including Jon Robin Baitz from Brothers & Sisters (starring Calista Flockhart) and Numb3rs‘ Barry Schindel. ”There’s been a feeling that the studios would use the strike to realign their business,” says Jay Sures, a partner from United Talent Agency. ”We didn’t think they were all going to do it in a 24-hour period.” — Lynette Rice
+ Ellen Page is at it again. The star of Juno and current It Girl is set to headline Drew Barrymore‘s directorial debut, Whip It. The film chronicles the adventures of Bliss Cavendar, a teenage misfit stuck in a dead-end town outside Austin, Tex., who decides to take up the time-honored tradition of Roller Derby. (Fun, right?) Based on the book Derby Girl by novelist and screenwriter Shauna Cross, Whip It will be produced by Barry Mendel and Barrymore’s Flower Films for Mandate Pictures. It begins shooting this summer in Austin.