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On Jan. 10, 2023, the Golden Globe Awards will return to NBC after a year off the air. But will a host, talent and viewers return too?
The Globes’ parent organization, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, became highly polarizing in the wake of Feb. 2021 Los Angeles Times reporting about demographical and ethical issues within the group of journalists for media outlets based outside of the United States. Over the 21 months since then, the HFPA implemented a new code of professional and ethical conduct, added six Black members and was acquired by Eldridge Industries, which turned the organization into a for-profit entity, spinning off its considerable charitable endeavors into a separate non-profit. Under the new deal, Eldridge will reportedly pay HFPA members a five-figure salary, but will not compensate people from more diverse outside groups who will now get to vote on the Globes alongside them. (The Hollywood Reporter is owned by PME Holdings, LLC, a joint venture between Penske Media Corporation and Eldridge.)
Some Hollywood stars have indicated that they will not work with the HFPA or the Globes regardless of any reforms. Brendan Fraser, a top best actor (drama) contender for The Whale, recently told GQ that he would not attend the ceremony if nominated. He previously alleged that the HFPA’s former president, Philip Berk, sexually assaulted him in 2003 (Berk disputes Fraser’s account), and says he remains dissatisfied with the HFPA’s response to that incident. It also seems unlikely that Top Gun: Maverick star Tom Cruise, a major contender in the same category, will show up, having returned to the organization, in the wake of the LA Times coverage, the three Golden Globe statuettes that he had previously been awarded.
Others seem likely to participate. Jamie Lee Curtis, who has a decades-long history with the HFPA, was one of only two celebrities who participated in the non-televised Globes ceremony earlier this year (the other being Arnold Schwarzenegger), when most others were distancing themselves from the organization and its show, so it seems likelier than not that she would show up if nominated for best supporting actress for Everything Everywhere All at Once.
But it is still a big question mark whether most top talent will accept HFPA invites to its show — the milestone 80th Globes, through which the HFPA will essentially be auditioning for a future broadcasting deal, given that NBC apparently renegotiated its contract with the HFPA so that their current deal will expire after the 2023 telecast rather than after the 2026 telecast.
To try to get a better sense of where things stand just days before the Globes’ nominations are announced on Dec. 12, The Hollywood Reporter surveyed nine top awards strategists, offering anonymity in exchange for candor. Their responses follow.
Should the Globes be back on television this year?
Respondee 1: “Yes, they should. The industry needs them as a marketing tool to help build awareness around the films leading into the Oscars.”
Respondee 2: “Yes. They are an integral part of the Hollywood economy, a boon for smaller independent films and a helpful tool encouraging further exposure to moviegoing.”
Respondee 3: “Absolutely. From a financial point of view, I reference Steve Zeitchik’s Washington Post story and another story from Business Wire. The former tracks a $100 million annual loss to the city of Los Angeles with the Globes’ disappearance, while the latter tracks the financial bump films that win and are nominated for Globes receive — in the millions of dollars. It’s good for business; no other awards show other than the Oscars is to this extent. The Globes have also consistently raised attention for network and streaming TV projects, both via ratings and subsequent Emmy noms and wins. Note the shit taken by the HFPA for its nominations for Emily in Paris, only to be followed six months later by the very same Emmy noms, the criticism for which was non-existent. It’s classic xenophobia.”
Respondee 4: “Yes. I think everyone loves the show.”
Respondee 5: “The Globes should be on TV as much as any awards show should be on TV. As much as the Academy puts on airs and acts like the Golden Globes is a ‘lesser’ show, the truth is the Globes have a consumer awareness that transcends the inside-baseball drama of a bunch of personal publicists playing God. And as much as the Academy acts like the Academy Awards is a superior telecast, the fact is that no one has ever marched up on stage and hit someone at the Globes (that I can recall).”
Respondee 6: “Yes, of course. The HFPA is no better or worse than many other awards groups that aren’t vilified. What’s the ethnic composition of the National Board of Review, for example? Anyone, whether or not a filmmaker, can join Film Independent and vote on the Spirit Awards. What qualifies them? Yet the press has no problem reporting their choices. Critics groups give out awards like candy. They’re not supposed to have favorites; they’re supposed to be impartial. Plenty of hypocrisy to go around here.”
Respondee 7: “The Golden Globes were a tremendous tool during awards season and the rare awards show besides the Oscars that general consumer audiences recognize. Selfishly, I’m pleased that they’re getting a shot to reclaim their role in the awards-giving landscape.”
Respondee 8: “They should be given a shot to gauge if they can still pull an audience. If it isn’t successful, NBC will have all the research it needs to make a final decision on the partnership.”
Respondee 9: “The Globes should not be back on television this year because if they try and fail, the show will never be back again. There are still just too many question marks, including whether talent will attend and whether anyone will tune in. I don’t know if America understands what all the controversy has been about, but regardless, you’re talking about an awards show on a Tuesday in January.”
Will the Globes land a host?
Respondee 1: “Yes, I’d suspect they land a host in the NBC family. They may have to pay a premium, but I think they’ll find someone willing to take the gig.”
Respondee 2: “It probably doesn’t matter.”
Respondee 3: “Yes. Not everyone is cowed by the hypocritical criticism from a cabal of press and publicists. Some talent has already done press conferences, and studios and streamers have screened films and shows and invited members to their events.”
Respondee 4: “It doesn’t really matter, but I bet they do.”
Respondee 5: “The host is irrelevant. The Oscars didn’t have a host for several years. Again, nobody tunes in for the hosts. They are additive, but not crucial.”
Respondee 6: “Will Smith. Duh!”
Respondee 7: “Likely no — seems like such a heavy lift. But if they do land one, that person has to walk a fine line between acknowledging the failures of the organization (with humor) without making it seem to attendees and audiences that the award is worthless because of those issues. Tough gig.”
Respondee 8: “I think it will be challenging. Finding someone to jump into the frying pan will require a lot of the organization.”
Respondee 9: “The rumor is that they have, but have not announced it yet. I wonder who that person is. It’s a big job — I think that person would be putting a target on his or her own back — and I’m curious to know who would take that on.”
Will you be encouraging your talent to attend?
Respondee 1: “Yes, but only if they feel comfortable doing so.”
Respondee 2: “Yes. Receiving a nomination is not just a big moment for one’s career, but also a time to promote the entire film to a wide audience.”
Respondee 3: “Yes, and the question is, in fact, ‘Why not?’ No one has yet to make any sense about their grievances post the HFPA’s changes. I doubt — in fact, I know — many continuing to protest involvement have yet to read them.”
Respondee 4: “I will be neutral.”
Respondee 5: “I think people will let talent decide for themselves whether or not to attend. But there is a difference between encouraging them to go and discouraging them from attending. And we will not be discouraging any talent from attending.”
Respondee 6: “Yes. The Globes are still a valuable step leading up to the Oscars.”
Respondee 7: “It’s a personal choice and I would respect talent and filmmaker decisions on the matter.”
Respondee 8: “We defer to talent and their reps on how much engagement they’re comfortable with. It’s always about them.”
Respondee 9: “I’m going to leave it up to my talent to do what they’re comfortable doing, which is what our policy has been all along. Some were adamant that they did not want to be submitted and will not attend, and others are far more open to it. I think the issue is that no one wants to be the first to say yes.”
Will the show be successful?
Respondee 1: “There’s a good chance the ratings can increase from the record low numbers of the COVID-impacted 2021 ceremony. If they’re able to ride the wave of several successful films being in contention and create some must-see moments, it could generate positive headlines.”
Respondee 2: “Perhaps a Tuesday evening slot is a better way to set expectations.”
Respondee 3: “How could it be worse than the Emmys or the Critics Choice Awards?”
Respondee 4: “If it’s a good show, it will be. No one outside of the industry is aware of the controversy.”
Respondee 5: “Hard to know, because NBC moved the show from a Sunday night to a week night, and that may drive the numbers down organically.”
Respondee 6: “Yes, or at least as successful as any awards broadcast can be today, provided that NBC promotes it fully. The general TV audience doesn’t care that some people in Hollywood are mad at a group of foreign journalists. Seriously.”
Respondee 7: “I have serious doubts that it can be, but I’m pulling for it as the Globes were previously good for business.”
Respondee 8: “That I can’t say. It’s all talent contingent, and if they don’t engage then the show will have a very hard time delivering. The Globes was seen as the fun awards ceremony. If the right people aren’t engaging, they lose that advantage.”
Respondee 9: “No, I don’t think the show will be successful. Awards shows, overall, are declining in popularity, and I’m not sure what success would look like even in the best of scenarios, which this is not.”
Will NBC want to renew its deal with the HFPA after this year’s Globes telecast?
Respondee 1: “It’s possible, at a significantly lower rate than their previous deal, but I think they’ll most likely let the show go.”
Respondee 2: “Assuming they get advertisers, yes. I don’t think they would have announced the return if they thought advertisers would not follow.”
Respondee 3: “Ask [NBCUniversal CEO] Jeff Shell.”
Respondee 4: “No idea. It will depend on whether the show is good. I think enough people will show up, at the end of the day, to make it a good show.”
Respondee 5: “The show will be renewed if it does a number. In the end, ratings will be the ultimate judge and jury.”
Respondee 6: “Possibly not. ABC’s trying to get out of the Oscars business. NBC likely wants out of awards show broadcasts, too. The world has changed. We’re not in Toluca Lake anymore.”
Respondee 7: “All depends on the ratings, I would imagine.”
Respondee 8: “Ratings are the key here. If NBC airs it, will they come?”
Respondee 9: “The most interesting thing in all of this is that NBC renewed for only one year. I guess it will ultimately depend on who gets nominated, which will impact the ratings. But I think an extension is unlikely. There’s a reason why they got out of their original deal.”
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