At Globes, the party’s the star

Jan 19, 2004  •  Post A Comment

“The Golden Globe Awards” is an awards show where winners and losers feel free to jump about on stage, casting off decorum, as Steve Martin and Billy Crystal did in 1990 after they both lost the best actor in a musical or comedy motion picture award to Morgan Freeman.
“We kind of had a bet about who was second,” Mr. Crystal quipped at the time.
It’s also the kind of show where a winner can miss her name being announced as winner because she’s in the ladies’ room. This happened to Christine Lahti, who won for best actress in a drama series at the 1998 Golden Globe Awards. As the room waited for Ms. Lahti, Robin Williams jumped up from the audience and vamped for time, sending everyone into hysterics when he handed Ms. Lahti a napkin with which to wipe her hands upon her return.
Such moments distinguish the show from its more staid counterparts, the Oscars and Emmys, and are, if not tacitly encouraged, then certainly welcomed by the extravaganza’s producers. The broadcast is designed to feel loose and intimate, putting viewers right there among the VIP crowd. Cameras pan the live audience repeatedly and shoot the stage from the audience’s perspective, “So you feel like you’re there,” said Barry Adelman, who with Dick Clark executive produces the show. Dick Clark Productions has produced the show in association with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association since 1983.

“We’re at the Beverly Hilton and don’t have a lot of room, and we try to make that work for us,” Mr. Adelman said. “`The Golden Globes’ has always been considered a party atmosphere show, and we don’t want to spoil that. The most important thing is to capture the party.”
In contrast, the Oscars and Emmys are held in large auditoriums and “have scope and grandeur. We try to keep the show as its own separate entity and not worry about what the Oscars are doing. They are a power like no other,” Mr. Adelman said.
Humble Beginnings
The “Golden Globes” telecast started out rocky but is now firmly lodged in the award show firmament. The presentation was first telecast locally on KTTV, Los Angeles, in 1958. In subsequent years it was on and off the air, sometimes appearing as part of Andy Williams’ variety show. For many years the broadcast flitted among Metromedia Television, NBC, CBS and national syndication. And in several years there was no TV coverage at all. TBS aired the show from 1989 through 1995 on cable. In 1996 it moved to NBC as part of a 10-year deal, which was extended in 2001 through 2011.
Last year, even going up against the season’s highest-rated NFL football game (excluding the Super Bowl), the “`Golden Globes”’ ranked as the third-highest-rated award show overall, behind the “Academy Awards” and “Grammy Awards.” Though the Emmys rated higher among viewers 18 to 49, the Globes’ 17 share in that category was an 83 percent increase over NBC’s season-to-date numbers for the Sunday 8 p.m.-to-11 p.m. (ET) time period.
“The Golden Globe Awards” has no host, which seems to help it move quickly. There’s a simple opening montage of arrivals rather than an opening monologue, and the show doesn’t spend time going back and forth to a host for every introduction. “There are very few people-Billy Crystal is certainly one of them-who can host a show. So why burden somebody with that awesome responsibility?” Mr. Adelman said.
An off-screen announcer introduces the presenters. “It’s all about getting as many stars on stage as we possibly can,” Mr. Adelman said. In addition, no time limits or guidelines are placed on acceptance speeches, so you don’t hear the annoying strains of an orchestra interrupting a long-winded thank-you. “We rely on everybody’s professionalism,” Mr. Adelman said. “This is probably the most professional group of people gathered in one room. These are not the kind of people you want to bore or start rambling in front of.”
Like Father, Like Son
The acceptance speech of Michael Douglas, this year’s winner of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contribution to the world of entertainment, is expected to be an emotional high point, particularly since Mr. Douglas is the second DeMille winner in his family; his father, Kirk Douglas, received the honor in 1968. The senior Mr. Douglas will also attend. “That should be tremendous,” Mr. Adelman said.
Producers of “The Academy Awards” noticeably toy with the show’s format from year to year, but with “The Golden Globe Awards,” no one wants to fix something that ain’t broke. “It’s [been] pretty much the same more or less since Dick Clark took over in 1982,” said Lorenzo Soria, HFPA president.
Actually, one small change is under consideration. Medallions of beef tenderloin are on the menu, but in the days before the show, the HFPA was prepared to switch entrees if the mad cow disease scare intensified. “We are monitoring the situation,” Mr. Soria said.