By Brad Pomerance
Special to TelevisionWeek
Of the 26 programs the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has nominated in the past five years for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television, only two aired on one of the commercial broadcast networks. And those two nominations were handed down five years ago to the same broadcast outlet-ABC, for “Anne Frank: The Whole Story” and “Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.”
Since 2002, the only nomination for a broadcast network was received last year, by noncommercial PBS and its “American Family,” which some observers viewed more as a series than a miniseries. Increasingly, “The networks have ceded TV movies to HBO and TNT. CBS’s Sunday movies have become remarkably unremarkable,” said David Kronke, television critic for the Los Angeles Daily News.
HBO has dominated the category with 15 nominations in the past five years. “Globe voters are seen as overly chummy with HBO in this category, and its three nominations this year don’t change that pattern,” said Tom O’Neil, columnist for the Los Angeles Times’ awards site theenvelope.com.
Of HBO’s three nominees-“Empire Falls,” “Lackawanna Blues” and “Warm Springs”-“Warm Springs” cleaned up at the 2005 Emmy Awards, with 16 nominations and five wins, including a victory for Outstanding Made for Television Movie. Yet, “HBO’s best entry, ‘Warm Springs,’ feels like a film the Hollywood Foreign Press is least likely to honor-an uplifting film about an American president,” Mr. Kronke said.
The most interesting nomination is critically acclaimed “Viva Blackpool,” which was televised on BBC America. “I think the downright most entertaining of the nominees was ‘Viva Blackpool,’ an audacious musical about a wonderfully charismatic if grubby dreamer,” Mr. Kronke said.
“If you are looking for original, compelling content, it’s a tight race between singing and dancing murder mystery ‘Viva Blackpool’ and the taut terrorism thriller [Showtime’s] ‘Sleeper Cell,'” said Rob Owen, television editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and president of the Television Critics Association.
“Viva Blackpool” is ineligible for Emmy consideration because BBC America is not transmitted into at least 51 percent of American television homes-an Emmy requirement. As a result, the Golden Globes is the best hope for the program to earn major recognition in the U.S.
That’s a role the Globes relishes. “This nomination shows that the Globe voters are taking a serious look at shows with a big impact,” Mr. O’Neil said.
In 2004 the Globes shook Hollywood to its core when the BBC comedy “The Office” beat out Fox’s “Arrested Development,” which had just won the 2004 Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series; USA’s “Monk”; HBO’s “Sex and the City,” which had won the Golden Globe for Best Television Comedy Series in 2000, 2001 and 2002; and NBC’s “Will & Grace,” which had garnered four consecutive Golden Globe nominations for Best Television Comedy Series.
The Globes have also given two other nominees their best hope for major recognition. “‘Sleeper Cell’ was Showtime’s hot new program. They hyped it big time,” Mr. O’Neil said. Meanwhile, “Into the West” was TNT’s $100 million, 12-part miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg. “Sleeper Cell” and “Into the West” were perceived to have underperformed in the ratings, much to the chagrin of their networks. No matter to Golden Globe voters.
“The Hollywood Foreign Press tracks hot, new, unique things in Hollywood, regardless of ratings success or critical buzz. They go their own way. So ‘Into the West’ and ‘Sleeper Cell’ get their reward from the Globes,” Mr. O’Neil said.