Freshman shows eye beginner's luck at Globes



The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. seems to take great pride in honoring new television shows with Golden Globe nominations -- and occasionally even wins -- and the suspicion is that this tendency might have something to do with anointing quality and amplifying buzz before the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has a chance to weigh in with the Primetime Emmys.

Would a Hollywood organization really place such importance on being first in line? Oh c'mon, like the question even needs to be asked.

When it comes to TV, the Globes have long played in the Emmys' shadow, so it stands to reason that any chance to give bold and buzzworthy shows an early boost is going to be a cachet-building lure. So don't be surprised if the Globes include a sampling of first-year shows in the mix when nominations are announced Dec. 13.

Series that premiere in the summer and fall qualify for Golden Globes before they do Emmys, which don't get handed out until a full year after a fall program's launch. By contrast, the January positioning of the Globes ceremony can bring those same first-year shows a midseason boost that can prove valuable in drawing respect and eyeballs their way.

Last January was fairly typical in terms of the Globes honoring freshman outings with nominations. The best drama series list included the still-building NBC rookie "Heroes," while the comedy lineup featured the first-year ABC hit "Ugly Betty," the eventual victor in the category. America Ferrera would bring "Betty" a second Globe for lead comedy actress, while NBC's freshman comedy "30 Rock" got a boost from the lead comedy actor triumph of star Alec Baldwin (though the show continued to struggle in the ratings throughout its first season).

"I have to believe that the buzz our awards help establish makes a difference in a show's overall recognition and possibly even viewership, though I haven't directly studied the impact," says Vera Anderson, a member of the HFPA's three-person television committee. "Being honored absolutely conveys onto a show the perception of being more worthy."

"Heroes" executive producer and showrunner Tim Kring recalls the attention heaped on his series by the Globes as being "a huge boost and vote of confidence for a show in such an infant stage. We had only aired nine episodes when the nominations were announced, so it helped us break out and put a quality stamp on us early on."

The new shows looking to bust out with Globes attention this year mostly appear to be from the world of basic cable, including the AMC period drama "Mad Men," FX's legal thriller "Damages" and TNT's "Saving Grace." The broadcast network offerings with nomination hopes include the ABC hours "Pushing Daisies" and "Dirty Sexy Money."

Greg Berlanti, an executive producer on "Dirty Sexy Money," had previously held out hopes for some Golden Globes love while running the acclaimed WB Network hour "Everwood," only to be annually snubbed. But with "DSM," he's got another shot at the gold.

"The Golden Globes are a real opportunity to give a boost -- and in some cases even life support-- to shows that need it," Berlanti says. "So much of surviving the first year and being the last one standing in the ring is about those moments where you can be singled out from the pack. That's what these awards have meant historically to so many shows. It would be really gratifying to have an opportunity to share in that."