It was odd, out of sync

Empty

It was more fizzle than sizzle at the 65th annual Golden Globes on Sunday night, a dispiriting event that will go down in history as "the year of the shattered Globes."

No stars dared cross the metaphorical picket line, forcing the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. to hastily stage a scaled down half-hour news conference which a couple of cable channels duly aired. NBC tried its best to enliven things for its viewers with an hourlong telecast.

This was not gripping TV for anyone involved.

The hapless yet determinedly plucky presenters, including "Entertainment Tonight's" Mary Hart and Jim Moret, read the names with just a modicum of ad-libbing; there was for each winner polite applause from the 500-odd publicists, reporters and photographers in the Beverly Hilton ballroom.

As the noms were read out, chuckles erupted for the first — for best supporting actress in a motion picture, Cate Blanchett, for "I'm Not There." For, of course, the actress wasn't.

In keeping with just how out of sync the whole awards season has become, NBC went its own way in its broadcast.

The Peacock aired a parallel, albeit longer, telecast, in which "Access Hollywood" hosts Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell hosted a studio show. With a full hour to fill, the duo went at a much slower pace; they paused for commercials, added editorial commentary and cut away to experts like Entertainment Weekly awards guru Dave Karger.

The oddest moment of the night came when the big awards were announced. NBC was in a Uniball commercial when Mary Hart read off best motion picture comedy or musical, and in a L'Oreal spot when HFPA topper Jorge Camara tapped "Atonement" best motion picture drama.

Camara ended the actual press conference a little past 6:30 PST with a vow that this was a one-time event — "Rest assured next year the Golden Globe Awards will be back bigger and better than ever"— and all the awards presenters shuffled off the stage. E! went to "Talk Soup" and TV Guide went to its post show, with hosts using words like "awkward" to describe the preceding half hour.

Meanwhile, outside the Hilton, a few unionists used the occasion to urge a labor settlement between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, and a handful of IATSE Local 767 members near the entrance to the hotel waved signs begging for an end to the strike."I've worked a day here, a day there, and I'm on unemployment," Howard Keys, a set medic for the ABC series "Private Practice," said. "We want to get out that it's not just the writers being affected. We're not picketing. We're sending a message."

Studio first aid worker Cheri Larson told The Hollywood Reporter that she has lost her health care because she has not worked the required number of hours: Larson stood in front of a white board with about 50 signatures of Local 767 members who have lost their health care coverage because of the WGA strike.

Inside the hotel and before the show, the press turned to one another in quiet desperation since there were no stars to interview.

Hart was treated as if she were Angelina Jolie by photographers and press, who were sitting and waiting for something … anything … exciting to happen at the low-wattage press conference.

"What's it like to be the biggest star of the Golden Globes?" asked one TV journalist during Hart's grand entrance into the hotel's International Ballroom.

Awards programs at each table, printed up before the show was canceled, contained a greeting from Camara, welcoming attendees to the 65th annual awards show and saying that he was "privileged to honor your achievements of the past year."

Inside were letters of congratulations from dignitaries including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, as well as Steven Spielberg, who was to have been presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award. That award, however, has been postponed until next year.

Rumer Willis, who was to have reigned as Miss Golden Globe, did not appear to be in attendance, but her biography in the program introduced her as a "movie veteran" at age 19.

While the top execs at the HFPA tried to maintain stiff upper lips, the foot-soldiers among the beleaguered group were much more outspoken about their disappointment about the truncated event.

"It was sadder than I thought and worse than I thought," said one HFPA member. "They rattled off the winners so fast, I can't even think of who the winners are."

The saddest part of the post-Globe glow was all the on-air entertainment TV talent trying to jazz up their intros. "Live behind the scenes at the Golden Globes," one "Extra" reporter half-heartedly said over and over on stage.

"Surreal is the best way to describe it," E! reporter and awards announcer Giuliana Rancic said afterward. "Never in a million years did I dream I would be presenting an award. You have to be an actress to do that, and I'm a bad actress. Or you have to be the daughter of a famous person.

"I had to come see it to believe it," she added.

Steven Zeitchik in New York contributed to this report.
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