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Jan 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Friday, Jan. 18, at 12:45 p.m. (PT); last updated Sunday, Jan. 20, at 8:55 p.m.

HBO wins big at Golden Globes

Sex and death proved irresistible to Hollywood’s foreign press corps, which made HBO the big winner — with six awards — at the 59th annual Golden Globes, held Sunday night at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills.

The pay-cable network’s fall-season Sunday night scheduling ploy, which combined new dramatic series “Six Feet Under” with veteran comedy hit “Sex and the City,” paid off with the two big TV-category series prizes for best drama and best comedy. “Sex’s” Sarah Jessica Parker and “Six Feet’s” Rachel Griffiths, actresses in the two HBO series, also took home awards — for best actress in a comedy and best supporting TV actress, respectively.

“My daily mantra is thank God for HBO!” enthused “Six Feet Under’s” creator Alan Ball, when the surprise win for the unlikely ensemble series about the family who owns a Pasadena mortuary was announced. It was a mantra the writer of “American Beauty,” who also was a writer on “Cybill” and “Grace Under Fire,” repeated no fewer than three times in his brief acceptance speech.

Kiefer Sutherland (“24”) was named best actor, and Jennifer Garner (“Alias”) was named best actress in a drama. The awards for best acting in a comedy series went to Charlie Sheen (“Spin City”) and Ms. Parker (“Sex and the City”).

Ms. Garner’s Golden Globe was for a spy series that has divided the critics and seemingly has showcased her physical grace and beauty more than her acting talents. Along with the award to “Six Feet Under,” it was the kind of surprise for which the Globes are famous.

Ms. Garner beat tough and better-known competition, including two actresses in “The Sopranos,” to win in the category. She captured the mood of the Globes perfectly, however, in her amusing acceptance speech. “I’m really glad I had the first glass of wine,” she said, “I’m kind of regretting the second.” She then thanked her cast — “Table 126” — and saluted J.J. Abrams, the show’s creator, for casting her in the part: “I know I was good in “Dude Where’s My Car?” she quipped, “but seriously …”

Ms. Parker’s thanks went not only to her “beloved cast and crew and wonderful employers [at] HBO,” but also to the “city of New York, which is indeed the fifth lady [on the show].” Accepting “Sex’s” series award, executive producer Michael Patrick King thanked a list of the show’s mostly unheralded writers by name, saying, “You’ve seen their sex lives, and you should at least know their names.”

HBO’s harrowing World War II docudrama miniseries “Band of Brothers” took the miniseries or TV movie award, and among the band of filmmakers who crowded the stage to accept the gold statuette were Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who also directed one of the miniseries episodes. Already much-lauded, “Brothers” now more than ever is the production to beat in the miniseries category at this fall’s Emmy awards.

Top miniseries acting awards went to actors who portrayed actors — James Franco, who played James Dean in TNT’s “James Dean,” and Judy Davis, who was Judy Garland in ABC’s “Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.”

HBO, a big winner at the recent Emmys, was the big winner at the Globes, too –and not just for its high-profile World War II miniseries and sexy comedy of Manhattan manners. “Six Feet Under” now will be able to go into its second season touting both a dramatic series win and the supporting actress award Ms. Griffiths won.

“To the producers, ” she said, holding up the statuette, “you crazy bastards, what were you thinking … a show about death!” Stanley Tucci, winner in the supporting actor category for HBO’s “Conspiracy,” said drolly in the middle of his own thank-you list: “I’ll thank anybody.”

Fox’s “24,” so far not the world-beater in the ratings for which the network had hoped, got a valuable promotional boost with Mr. Sutherland’s acting award. So did ABC’s “Alias,” for the same reason, with Ms. Garner’s acting award.

The Globes, televised by NBC, are given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, an organization of fewer than 100 correspondents and stringers. The HFPA has overcome intimations of past scandals and disparagement by Hollywood insiders to become one of the premier events on the awards-season social calendar. Even in the years before it was nationally televised, and even before it became regarded as a harbinger of the Oscars and was incorporated into many studio publicity campaigns, what made the Globes show popular with A-list celebrities, from both TV and film, was its reputation as a whopping good party. The Globes evening, unlike the Emmys or the Oscars, was always more than just a staid publicity opportunity.

Going to the Globes in those nontelevised days meant you “schmoozed a bit, boozed a little and table hopped,” as Dagmar Dunlevy, HFPA president, put it during E! Entertainment’s all-day pre-show coverage. To a large degree, that’s still true. Indeed, no small part of the Globes appeal is its unpredictability and spontaneity, and no small part of that is due to the fact that dinner — with wine abundant — is served during the awards show. The Golden Globes is “so surreal,” said Mr. Sheen, accepting his statuette. “This is like a sober acid trip.”

Unlike last November’s toned-down and sober-minded Emmys, held under the cloud of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Hollywood came to Sunday night’s Golden Globes show dressed to the nines and ready to have a grand old time. If the 2002 edition of the Globes was anything like the Globes of old, it was only after the network cameras and lights were turned off that the big fun began.

No cameras to be allowed in Moussaoui courtroom: U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema has ruled against televising the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, who is charged with conspiracy in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Court TV, joined by other news organizations, had petitioned the court for the right to televise the federal trial, expected to begin Oct. 14. Judge Brinkema cited security issues in turning down Court TV’s request for live television coverage. She also rejected Court’s argument that the present ban on television cameras in federal trials is unconstitutional.

“We are optimistic that the United States Congress will soon pass legislation permitting cameras in our federal courts subject, however, to the sole discretion of the trial judge,” said Henry Schleiff, Court TV’s chairman and CEO, in a statement. A decision on whether the cable network will appeal the judge’s decision is expected sometime next week.

Mr. Moussaoui’s attorneys also had asked the judge to lift the ban on TV cameras, saying their client was more likely to receive a fair trial if it was televised. The prosecution had argued that television coverage could help terrorists identify and intimidate witnesses and other trial participants. If convicted, Mr. Moussaoui could face the death penalty.

States may attempt to block EchoStar-DirecTV merger: Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon may file suit in state court to block the $26 billion merger of EchoStar Communications and DirecTV, and a few other states may do the same. Thirty states have formed a working group to review the deal. “A lawsuit is not imminent for us, [but] certainly it is not out of the question if the merger should continue,” said Scott Holste, spokesman for the Missouri attorney general, who worries that the deal creates a dish TV monopoly.

The satellite TV companies have hired Stephen Houck, a former New York assistant attorney general, to help them respond to the investigations. State reviews are routine for a merger of this size and scope. Mr. Holste said Missouri has the authority to take legal action before the U.S. Justice Department completes its federal review of the deal.

Rep. Wolf requests hearings on TV liquor ads: Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., a critic of NBC’s controversial decision to air hard-liquor ads on the network, has asked three colleagues to hold hearings on the matter. They are Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest Hollings, D-S.C.; House Energy and Commerce Co
mmittee Chairman Billy Tauzin, R-La.; and Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet. Rep. Wolf also is exploring several legislative options, which include mandating public service messages and requiring compensation for any subsequent increase in youth drinking.

CableReady heavy on reality at NATPE: CableReady, the independent program distribution and development company, is bringing three new reality offerings to this year’s National Association of Television Program Executives convention. They are:

“Starters,” 10 half-hours that follow a Seattle inner-city high-school basketball team in pursuit of the state championship. “Starters” has been sold in the United States to kids’ cable-network Starz WAM!

“Seven Days Left,” 13 one-hours, each with an in-depth look at the week leading up to a major American event — New Year’s Eve in Times Square, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, etc. “Seven Days” is targeted for a fall 2004 start.

“Kids Health,” 13 half-hours about children’s health issues. The series is scheduled to run domestically on PBS.

KTXA-TV to air NBA game in high definition: UPN affiliate KTXA-TV, Dallas-Fort Worth, will broadcast Saturday’s Dallas Mavericks-Utah Jazz game in high definition. This is the first time a sporting event on the station will be shown in HDTV. KTXA is part of the Viacom duopoly in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Cable nets slate new documentaries, movies, series for spring: The Learning Channel has plans to run an original documentary titled “World Trade Center: Anatomy of the Collapse” from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET) Feb. 6. The program will take a scientific look at the the hijacked airplanes’ impact on the towers and factors contributing to their subsequent collapse. MIT and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute will provide computer graphics simulations. “WTC” is a production of England-based Darlow-Smithson.

In other programming news, Discovery Health Channel is going to launch “Close to Home,” a documentary dealing with the devastating criminal acts of child sexual abuse, for an unspecified spring run date. Discovery Channel will also telecast a special “New York Firefighters” (working title) on March 6 that will feature interviews with members of Rescue 3, a New York City firefighting unit that lost several members on Sept. 11. The special will be narrated by Stockard Channing.

Discovery Health also announced that talk show “The Berman Sisters” will debut on Monday, April 15, hosted by Laura Berman, Ph.D. and Jennifer Berman, MD. The network will also be doing one-minute Discovery Health news breaks throughout the day relevant to health issues such as depression, bioterrorism and medical news. The segments will be produced in coordination with Reuters News Service.

Travel Channel and ABC News Productions are teaming to produce “Times Square: America’s Town Square” a special celebrating an area of New York City that was once called Longacre Square and is now the city’s dynamic theater, commerce and entertainment center. The documentary will air in fourth quarter 2002.

Animal Planet will debut an original remake of the film “Gentle Ben,” starring Dean Cain and Corbin Bernsen, on Monday, March 25, and a remake of “Eye of the Wolf,” featuring C. Thomas Howell and Anne Archer, on Monday, April 15. Animal Planet will also debut “Pet Psychic,” a series with animal psychic Sonya Fitzpatrick, sometime this spring.

ESPN schedules air date for first original movie: ESPN will run its first original movie, “A Season on the Brink,” on March 10. Brian Dennehy will star in this story of the downfall of former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight.#

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications