63rd Annual Golden Globes: ABC Tailgates HBO in Globes Contest

Dec 19, 2005  •  Post A Comment

This year the Golden Globe nominations has made life easier for the women of Wisteria Lane.

Last year three of the four lead actresses from ABC’s “Desperate Housewives”-Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman and the eventual winner, Teri Hatcher-were nominated in the best actress in a musical or comedy TV series category, but their co-star Eva Longoria was not. For the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 63rd annual Golden Globe Award nominations, which were announced last week, Ms. Longoria made the cut along with the other three leading “Housewives.”

Counting its nomination for best musical or comedy TV series, “Housewives” garnered five Golden Globe nods, the most for any single program, edging out HBO’s miniseries “Empire Falls,” which scored four nominations. With additional recognition for “Lost,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Commander in Chief,” ABC more than doubled its number of nominations this year to 16, one shy of perennial leader HBO, which was down to 17 nominations from 20 last year.

Besides garnering acting noms for stars Geena Davis and Donald Sutherland, the presidential what-if drama “Commander” also scored a best series nomination despite the highly publicized creative changes early in the show’s production, when creator Rod Lurie left the show and was replaced by Steven Bochco. The series nomination was particularly sweet for Touchstone Television, the studio responsible for 15 of ABC’s 16 nominations, and for Mark Pedowitz, Touchstone’s president.

“It felt like a vindication that we knew we had a show that is appealing,” Mr. Pedowitz said. “There was nothing wrong with the creative of the show.”

Other broadcasters’ debut offerings garnered the attention of the HFPA as well.

NBC scored a best series nomination for its comedy “My Name Is Earl” as well as a best actor nomination for the show’s lead, Jason Lee. Fox garnered a drama series nom for “Prison Break” and an acting nomination for the penitentiary thriller’s Wentworth Miller. But the most historic nod went to UPN, which received its first-ever Golden Globe nomination for its period comedy “Everybody Hates Chris.”

The “Chris” nomination highlights the changes that have been made at the network, UPN President Dawn Ostroff said.

“It’s hard to break out of the clutter,” Ms. Ostroff said. “It’s certainly harder for us than anyone else. For us to have shows all of a sudden that are recognized for their quality, that’s a step in the right direction.”

The nomination helps increase recognition for the show and the network, Ali LeRoi, “Chris” co-creator and executive producer, said.

“It hasn’t hurt HBO,” said Mr. LeRoi, who also noted that the nominations reflect a resurgence in the sitcom genre.

“There’s actually some good shows out there, whether people think there’s been the death of comedy or not,” he added.

The best comedy list, which includes his studio’s show “Earl,” is the most diverse list in years, said Gary Newman, president of 20th Century Fox TV.

“You would say about none of those shows, ‘Oh jeez, this is just another living room comedy,'” Mr. Newman said. “It speaks to a renaissance in comedy, a number of great creators having really raised the bar.”

Along with “Earl” and “Housewives” in the best comedy category is Showtime’s “Weeds,” HBO’s “Entourage” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Earl’s” Tuesday-night lead-out, NBC’s “The Office,” which premiered last midseason and has seen its ratings grow over the fall. In January both “Earl” and “Office” are headed to NBC’s high-profile Thursday schedule, a move that will get more attention thanks to the Golden Globes nominations, said Angela Bromstad, president of NBC Universal Television Studio.

“It helps promote and elevate that show more,” Ms. Bromstad said of her studio’s “The Office.” “It’s still a growing show and it has tremendous potential. This validates that.”

Despite the accolades and the attention, affirmation from the Golden Globes does nothing to alleviate the pressure of making a solid comedy, said Greg Garcia, the creator of “Earl.”

“I wake up every morning terrified I’m not going to do a good episode of TV,” Mr. Garcia said. “None of that changes for me.”

The prestige, notoriety and marketing opportunities of an award nomination are all real, Mr. Garcia said, but that does not change his main focus as a show creator.

“I’m more interested if the audience is liking it or not,” he said, “because that ultimately is the most important thing.”