Golden Globes Preview: The Glamour and the Glitz

Jan 10, 2005  •  Post A Comment

By Lee Alan Hill

Special to TelevisionWeek

The Golden Globes are marketed as the “precursor to the Oscars,” suggesting that the 88 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association have some crystal ball that grants them an advance peek into the granddaddy of entertainment awards.

“You have to factor that we are journalists,” said Jenny Cooney Carrillo, an Australian co-chair of the HFPA Television Committee. “Our job is to spot trends, to look for the next big story. We pride ourselves on recognizing quality and being the first to tell everyone.”

In terms of the television awards, many agree the Golden Globes voters have an eye for news.

“It happens too early in the year to be a true precursor to the Emmys,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of development for Katz Media Television. “Perhaps it has some effect if a show is wavering between renewal or cancellation by putting those shows on the audience radar. But because the Golden Globes are voted by outside observers, it does give us a perception of what’s happening, what’s trending, what things are new and different.”

Mr. Carroll said he is not surprised that “Desperate Housewives” was the top draw in the nominations this year, nor that “Lost” and “Boston Legal” were also honored, because they are shows on the upswing.

Ms. Cooney Carrillo said the Golden Globes frequently honor “the next big thing before the Emmys do,” because the Television Academy, she said, has more conservative voters.

It was the HFPA that honored “The X-Files” and one of its stars, Gillian Anderson, two years before the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences followed suit, she said. Last year, the organization gave “Arrested Development” its first nomination of any kind, and the series went on to be renewed despite shaky ratings numbers and win the Emmy as best comedy series.

Despite such Emmy foreshadowings, there is little correlation between the two awards ceremonies on the whole. Looking at the equivalent categories for the past three years, the Emmy and the Golden Globe went to the same performer or program in only eight of 33 categories, and that includes five for “Angels in America,” which swept every award for which it was eligible during the year.

The two groups of voters seem to have their own groups of “pet” performers and shows. For example, while the Emmys overlooked Angela Lansbury on numerous occasions, she was a Globes favorite four times for “Murder, She Wrote.”

In addition, the Emmys had a chance to recognize Jamie Foxx last year for his work in the TV movie “Redemption” but did not. The HFPA gave Mr. Foxx a record three nominations in one year for that film and two theatrical features.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association dates to 1943 and was formed to create a bridge between journalists covering Hollywood for overseas publications and the industry. A year after the organization began, the Golden Globes were born. To this day, it remains the only major award to retain the banquet format at its ceremonies, and it has traditionally had no set host.

“Having a host would put pressure on the performer and the writers to come with lines that score,” said Barry Adelman, the executive producer along with Dick Clark. “We want to say, `This is all about the room.’ At the commercial breaks there’s table-hopping, which we tape and run later in the show. The audience thinks they’re at a party, and they are.”

The Globes coverage has expanded to pre- and post-awards specials. NBC, the TV Guide Channel and E! Entertainment all produce shows before and after the ceremony.

Who’s in the HFPA?

The members of the HFPA represent 46 countries and serve 250 million readers worldwide. Becoming a member is an arduous process, including two years of certification as a working journalist by the Motion Picture Association of America and yearly proof of ongoing bylines. There was a turnover of five members last year.

HFPA headquarters in West Hollywood is a meeting place for foreign entertainment journalists, who according to board member and former President Jean Cummings, “look to the organization to liaison with the studios.

“Foreign distribution of movies has never been more lucrative,” Ms. Cummings said. “We have 400 press conferences each year set up for our members, and committees that work with the studios and TV producers to decide which ones we want [to cover].”

The small size of the membership and the fact that the members are generally unknown to the American public has occasionally fueled mistrust of the voting. In 1982 Pia Zadora won the Globe as New Star of the Year, setting off widespread reports that the award had been “bought” by her wealthy then-husband Meshulam Riklis, who had allegedly wined and dined the HFPA membership.

Members bristle at the mere mention of that brouhaha. “Last year Ricky Gervais won as best actor in a TV comedy series. Not only have I never had lunch with him, I’ve never met him,” Ms. Cooney Carrillo said.

“I don’t know that the process of choosing a Golden Globe is any longer in question,” said Mr. Carroll. “No matter how you debate that process, the fact is that for the audience at home it’s a big award.

“And when they tune in they see a montage of who’s now and who’s new. That’s what lures them.”