Monday, January 16, 2006
Spanning the Golden Globes
Tonight, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) -- a handful of entertainment journalists who have covered the film scene for overseas media for better than a half century -- handed out its 63rd annual Golden Globe Awards to honor outstanding achievement in movies and TV. For years, the Golden Globes were considered to merely be a fun night out for Hollywood stars, a time for them to mingle and party. For the majority of its existence, the Golden Globe Awards had little prestige -- and was never thought to be in the same league as the Oscars (which are handed out by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences). After all, it wasn't much of a secret, in town, that the members of the HFPA loved to be wined and dined, and given special treatment at press junkets. (Of course, there are many who believe the Oscars themselves are nothing more than a popularity contest, and don't truly reflect the best of the year either). So, for years, the Golden Globe ceremony was something of an inside joke. Stars came for food and drink, to have fun, and be slightly irreverent. However, the ceremony reached its nadir in 1982 when the HFPA awarded Pia Zadora a Best Newcomer award for her critically panned performance in Butterfly (amid rumors HFPA members were entertained at a Las Vegas hotel owned by Zadora's husband). Network TV dropped the show. Enter Dick Clark (Yes, that Dick Clark!) As executive producer of the show (through Dick Clark Productions), Clark returned the Globes to primetime network placement (on NBC) by the mid 90s, and continued to shape and improve the image of the awards. For years, Clark even acted as host (and backstage interviewer) for the proceedings. (Just as he had given the Grammys a run for its money with the creation of the American Music Awards, Clark knew he could bring some of Oscar's audience over to the Globes if he played his cards right.) So, the rules were tightened. Old categories were removed. New ones were added. And marketing soon focused on the Globes being "Hollywood's Biggest Party," hyping the fact that more stars attended the Globes than the Oscars (which they did). Then in 1992, the Globes were remade again when, much to the surprise of many industry observers, the HFPA nominated Scent of a Woman in the Best Picture category. The Motion Picture Academy followed suit, and soon it was reported that the Globes could, in fact, influence the Academy! From that point on, the Globes have been considered a "predictor" of Oscar nominees and winners. Red carpet pre-shows soon followed. The combination of continued star-power (Hollywood's A-list really seems to love attending the ceremony) and a perception of "importance" has now elevated the Globes in status -- second only to the Oscars in terms of interest come Awards Season.