Sunday, Jan. 13
They turned the Golden Globes into the Golden Mike Awards on Sunday night, showing what can be done when necessity -- mother of invention that it is -- truncates a three-hour marathon into a 30-minute sprint that could have been jointly sponsored by Ritalin, CliffsNotes and TiVo.
Indeed, anyone who consistently gripes about the length of these things finally saw their ship come in while watching on TV the live Beverly Hilton-originated "press conference." In this case, we should use the words "press" and "conference" especially loosely as it essentially was faux journalists joyously speed-reading nominees and winners for a faux show. No questions, please.
How blindingly fast was it?
Well, if you'd double-parked your Beemer on Wilshire Boulevard, you'd probably have gotten back to the car before the cops ticketed it. What we saw on TV Guide Channel, E! and CNN was a cavernous hall, a podium and the awkward TelePrompTer reading and jabber from "Showbiz Tonight's" Brooke Anderson, "Extra's" Dayna Devon, "Entertainment Tonight's" Mary Hart, Jim Moret of "Inside Edition," Giuliana Rancic of "E! News Daily" and Lara Spencer from "The Insider." It wasn't quite theater of the absurd, but close.
That was how it went down on cable. Over at NBC, the divide separating the network from the HFPA was evident in that the network decided to go with its Plan A: turn the Globes into an "Access Hollywood" PR stunt replete with pearly-white hosts Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell standing at a shimmering set, with show co-anchor/correspondent Shaun Robinson doing "tell us what we just saw for those viewers who may be comprehension-impaired" happy-talk analysis with Entertainment Weekly senior writer Dave Karger.
"It's going to be a very exciting night!" Robinson exhalted before the telecast was two minutes old.
You couldn't script it any better (were there writers around to script it) than to have Cate Blanchett winning the first announced Globe for a film called "I'm Not There." No, she wasn't. Of course, nobody else was, either. The Hilton was red carpet-less, star-less and nearly picket-free except for a few ladies representing the below-the-line world. It also was suspense-free, rather like a series of speed dates where it's difficult at the end of the night to remember anyone's name.
Indeed, the presentation had to set a land speed record for fastest event in showbiz history: 25 categories in 30 minutes, and not a second over the allotted time. As a result, the TV Guide Channel preshow and postshow coverage (featuring THR's Andrew Wallenstein) officially was six times longer than the event itself.
There seemed to be a nervous, oddly giddy vibe at the Hilton that came through on the telecast.
CNN's Anderson said she was "honored and thrilled to be here tonight" while doing her stint, which was a bit like a cat noting how it was thrilled to be at a dog show. Hart raced through a recap of her previous favorite Globes moments, one of which didn't appear to be this one. The reading of the nominees was accompanied by the inevitable clips, and the winner reveal was met by scattered cheers and applause.
CNN turned the proceedings into a very special edition of "Larry King Live," meaning we had to hear King's knee-jerk reacts underneath the podium dialogue (King: "Daniel Day-Lewis, one of the great screen performances of all time").
Meanwhile, on NBC, the atmosphere still was more antiseptic and wrenching, what with the nightly magazine production values and frequent ad breaks stretching things to the originally planned 60 minutes. It came complete with the "whoosh" sound at the end of the nominee announcements and a fluorescent look that was a carbon copy of, well, "Access Hollywood."
And we were forced to endure Bush and O'Dell.
Bush: "Glenn Close. She's a force in 'Damages.' Just unbelievable."
O'Dell: "Yes. Yes."
Admittedly, the HFPA was in a tough position given the WGA strike mess, the lack of a waiver and NBC's refusal to allow the ceremony to go forth without its cameras present. But the surreal news event that arrived in living rooms Sunday smacked of overkill and underkill simultaneously. It will forever be remembered as the year the Globes went PC (as in press conference), and the stars, much like those in the sky, were nowhere to be found.