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    Rainn Reigns over Spirit Awards

    Rainn Wilson's got Spirit, yes he do.

    Dunder Mifflin Scranton's second banana is set to become top dog at the 2008 Film Independent Spirit Awards, signing on not only to host the art-house answer to the Oscars but to write some post-ironic banter, thanks to a special waiver granted to the awards show by the Writers Guild of America.

    While the Office star is not a nominee at the Spirit Awards, he did briefly appear in one of the awards-show circuit's most buzzed about flicks, Juno. The teen pregnancy comedy is up for four trophies, including Best Feature.

    "It is truly an honor to be asked to host an awards show that salutes the cutting edge in cinema," Wilson said. "I like to think that I bring a bit of an 'independent spirit' to the proceedings as I recently installed a gun rack in my Prius."

    The Spirit Awards are typically the most low-key stop on the kudo circuit, taking place the day before the Oscars in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica.

    As with their nominees, the Spirit Awards also tend to choose edge over mainstream in its choice of hosts. While the more staid Academy opted for Ellen DeGeneres as master of ceremonies earlier this year, the Spirit Awards chose, for the second year running, to tease censors with Sarah Silverman. This year, Wilson's Oscar counterpart will be Jon Stewart.

    On Thursday, the WGA announced that it had granted the event organizer, Film Independent, an interim waiver. That means despite the now seven-week-long writers' strike, Film Independent can hire union writers for the ceremony. Wilson, a WGA member, will also contribute his services as a writer during the show.

    While the WGA granted a similar waiver to next month's Screen Actors Guild Awards, the writers' union rejected a request from the Golden Globes and signaled it would also refuse to give the Academy Awards a free pass.

    According to Film Independent executive director Dawn Hudson, the Spirit Awards waiver was applied for, and granted, well in advance of the Nov. 5 strike.

    "The Spirit Awards and Film Independent have a long-standing, positive relationship with the Writers Guild," she said. "We've worked over many, many years to have parity for writers as they're represented on our show."

    The Wilson-hosted bash will air live and unedited on IFC Feb. 23 and will be rebroadcast later the same day in a more FCC-friendly format on AMC.

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