By Lee Alan Hill
The nominees for best dramatic TV series at the 63rd Golden Globes include three series on ABC, giving that network validation that its recent program development is succeeding. And three of the category’s five nominees are series that premiered last fall.
“It’s very much like the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to nominate new series,” said Jenny Cooney, chair of the HFPA’s Television Committee, a steering group helping to set up press conferences with TV programs and stars.
“As journalists we’re always looking for the trends and what’s news,” she said. “That’s the nature of what we do.”
The nominees include ABC’s “Commander in Chief,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Lost,” along with “Prison Break” on Fox and “Rome” on HBO.
“Grey’s Anatomy” was a midseason offering during 2004-05, and “Lost” began in fall 2004. The other three are freshman series.
“It’s kind of a tradition of the Globes to tip their collective hats to the new and unrecognized,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz Media Research. “ABC got the nominations because they’ve had a great year. ABC has the buzz right now. They deserve the recognition.”
Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment, said, “What’s so great for us is not just the validation that we’re doing the job developing shows that are recognized. We appreciate that, but from our standpoint we look and see nominations for shows that aren’t just daring but different … from each other.”
Indeed, there is some thought that “Grey’s Anatomy,” the hospital-based Sunday night series that follows the hourlong “Desperate Housewives,” might, like its lead-in, should be considered a comedy.
“It has comedy elements,” Mr. McPherson said. “In many dramas there’s a lot of comedy. It’s a tough spot to be in, in some ways. In the past you’ve had ‘Ally McBeal’ and ‘Northern Exposure’ that were hour shows but competed in awards as comedies. In some sense ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is also a hybrid. We’re happy the hard work on that show is being recognized, that’s all.”
Of the five shows, only “Lost” has been nominated for a Golden Globe before. It did not win the Globe last year but did win the Emmy Award last September for outstanding drama series. “Lost” cast members Matthew Fox and Naveen Andrews also received Golden Globe nominations this year.
The nomination for “Commander in Chief,” which also received a nod for its star, Geena Davis, comes amid speculation that it is a series in trouble because veteran producer Steven Bochco has been brought in as showrunner.
Mr. McPherson insisted the reports of problems are not true.
“We always knew there would be a learning curve for [series creator] Rod Lurie as a showrunner,” he said. “Bringing Steven aboard was a move to help Rod, and Steven very much wants to preserve what has already been connecting with the audience. This was a seamless transition, and the Golden Globe [recognition] indicates the show is working.”
Missing from the mix of nominees are longstanding favorites “The West Wing” and “ER,” both of which have been nominated in the past for best drama series. Both were shut out this year in the acting categories as well.
“Our members all watch a lot of television,” Ms. Cooney said. “Being attracted to the new thing means those series that have the sense they cannot be missed. With older series there may still be much to praise, but I think our members lose the sense of being avid watchers, the sense that you can’t miss an episode.”
On the other hand, “Prison Break,” which focuses on a young man who gets himself imprisoned so he can help free his wrongly convicted brother, “can be compared to ’24,'” Ms. Cooney said. “It’s a show that you get hooked on. It’s a show that breaks with the dramatic genre in a creative way, and one where you can’t miss an episode.”
Mr. Carroll registered some surprise that “Boston Legal” was not included in the nominations. “That’s a show that they’ve traditionally gone for,” he said. But overall, he added, “The drama series nominations are pretty balanced in terms of what they did. I don’t think there are any negatives, anything that you can look at and wonder what they were thinking when they voted.”