Hollywood just starting to see value of Globe$

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Golden Globe$: If you believe something good can actually come out of something bad, consider that in the aftermath of the Golden Globes being blown out of the water by the WGA strike, Hollywood is finally discovering the value these much maligned awards actually have to the film and television industry, the creative community and the Los Angeles economy.

The Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. estimated there were local losses of about $80 million thanks to the Globes' temporary demise. But there's actually much more in losses -- maybe another $30 million or more -- if you include canceled network advertising, unpaid license fees and unspent production money. Last year's Globes generated advertising revenue of nearly $27 million for NBC. Insiders are estimating NBC could wind up returning between $10 million and $15 million to advertisers this time around because of its drastically reduced Globes coverage.

The Grammy Awards, which are scheduled for a live CBS broadcast Feb. 10 from the Staples Center in L.A., is also on the endangered list. The L.A. Convention and Visitors Bureau has estimated that their economic impact on the city is about $26 million. If the Academy Awards show planned for Feb. 24 runs into the same bad luck as the Globes, there will be much bigger losses for ABC, which took in nearly $80 million in Oscar advertising last year, and the economic impact on the Southland will likely be more than that from the Globes and Grammys combined.

For L.A. area businesses the obvious Globes-related losses were from not having a banquet at the Beverly Hilton Hotel or any studio sponsored after-parties there (each estimated to cost around $750,000 all in). There also were trickle-down losses stemming from people canceling hair, makeup and nails appointments, tuxedo rentals, purchases of gowns and shoes, limousines, hotel bookings and restaurant reservations during their visits to attend the Globes, airline tickets to L.A., etc.

On top of that, there won't be the customary boxoffice bounce for films like Focus Features' "Atonement" and DreamWorks and Paramount's "Sweeney Todd" that won best picture Globes Sunday night. Normally they'd have benefited from ticket sales to some of the roughly 20 million people nationwide who saw the live three-hour awards ceremonies on NBC and the extended red carpet coverage before the Globes on cable TV and are now interested in seeing the winning movies. But this year's one-hour mini-Globes press conference only delivered an audience of about 5.8 million people. That's unlikely to generate the usual Globes up-tick in grosses.

Those media observers who've made light of the Globes over the years and were delighted when the event became collateral damage to the strike are missing the point that the entire L.A. area has suffered tremendous economic damage because of what happened to the Globes. In the face of this economic jolt, some people are first starting to realize that the Globes pump meaningful money into the local economy and the entertainment industry. Perhaps this new understanding of just how valuable the Globes are to so many people working in Hollywood and in related businesses serving the entertainment community will give the Globes some new and well-deserved respect next year.

Nonetheless, despite the lack of festivities, Globes were handed out Sunday. It's easy to say that there can't be any impact on a film's Oscar prospects from winning a Globe because Oscar nominations ballots had to be received the day before the Globes announcements were made. While that's true, the real impact on the Oscar noms came in December when the Globe noms were announced, creating a shortlist of films for short-of-time Academy members to consider nominating.

On the other hand, those films that surface Jan. 22 as Oscar nominees will have an important advantage if they've just won Globes. Even without the usual extended television coverage, Globe winners will go into the Oscar race as frontrunners. By winning the best picture-drama Globe, Focus Features' period piece epic romantic drama "Atonement" has a new lease on life if it gets a best picture nod from Academy members. The same is true of DreamWorks and Paramount's period piece musical thriller "Sweeney Todd," which won the best picture-musical or comedy Globe.

Neither of these films resonated significantly with the critics groups that dominate the early weeks of the awards season. Both titles were starting to look like nonstarters in Oscar's best picture race, but after their Globe wins their prospects are now brighter. One or both of them could emerge as Oscar nominees. The fact that these titles took home best picture Globes suggests to those who consider the Globes to be a good bellwether for the Oscars that Academy members may see in them what Globes voters saw in them. It would have been even better if Academy voters had been able to see the Globe winners making their acceptance speeches because these are, in effect, dress rehearsals for how they'd look and sound if they were to win Oscar night.

Of course, this being a totally wide open year with many other best picture contenders to choose from -- including such films as Miramax and Paramount Vantage's "No Country for Old Men," Paramount Vantage and Miramax's "There Will Be Blood," Miramax's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," Fox Searchlight's "Juno," Paramount Vantage's "Into the Wild," Universal's "American Gangster" and Warner Bros.' "Michael Clayton" -- there's less certainty that the Globes wins will translate into Oscar nods, but we certainly could see that happen.

Given that Academy members tend to be older than their Hollywood guild counterparts and have more taste's that's usually more mainstream than the critics groups, pictures resonate with them that don't necessarily win other awards. Oscar voters have in the past found common ground with the Globes and there could be evidence of that again Jan. 22.

Filmmaker flashbacks: From Aug. 24, 1990's column: "For the most part, these late summer days are uneventful in Hollywood. With the summer's business patterns having by now been analyzed to death there hasn't been much of note to focus on, and with so many high profile players out of town things were turning dull.

"Fortunately, the threat of a dull moment was averted by word that Carolco, which made headlines in June by paying $3 million for Joe Eszterhas' screenplay 'Basic Instinct,' is now scrapping that script and having it rewritten. Chalk the whole thing up to creative differences, it's said. Apparently Carolco, director Paul Verhoeven and Michael Douglas basically don't see eye to eye with Eszterhas and producer Irwin Winkler over how explicit 'Basic's' sex scenes should be.

"Normally, there's nothing unusual about production companies, producers, directors, stars and writers having differences of opinion over how to approach material. Such creative differences are actually quite common. But in this instance the whole thing, serious as it is, becomes laughable since just two short months ago people were going around talking bout the new trend to selling spec scripts and how much better it was to be able to pay top dollar for something that already existed and that could be read and evaluated than having to go through so-called 'development hell' and write screenplays by committee...

"In June, sources who'd read 'Basic' were quoted as saying it was a 'fantastic script' and that what made it really worthwhile was that it was in such a finished state that it was ready to go before the cameras tomorrow.

"Even if you subscribe to the Hollywood philosophy that there is no good or bad, only what somebody with the ability to sign checks likes or dislikes, it's hard to understand how things could have changed so. How could a screenplay read so well in June that it was worth a record-setting $3 million to the writer and a $1 million fee to the producer sharing that writer's vision of how to make the movie, and by late August require rewriting by another writer?

"Well, the screenplay didn't change from day one to day 60. What changed was the perception of how right it was to be turned into a movie by and with the high-profile players involved. The irony of it all is that this $3 million deal was seen by some as going a long way toward elevating the status of writers in Hollywood. There were those who believed it would help move writers up from being the low men and women on the creative totem pole. What's happened unfortunately seems to have nipped that trend in the bud..."

Martin Grove hosts movie coverage on the broadband television channel www.UpdateHollywood.com.
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