Golden Globes now a media free-for-all



UPDATED 6:40 p.m. PT Jan. 11

Now it's war.

The battle between NBC and the HFPA/Dick Clark Prods. reached fever pitch Friday as wrangling over Golden Globes money and creative control led the HFPA to pull NBC's broadcast exclusivity and turned the backstory into a drama as bloody as any of the films nominated for best drama.

The Globes press conference is now a network-neutral broadcast that NBC will not host or produce and instead serve as, at most, one of several broadcasters.

But that result only hints at the intensity of Friday's drama, which undoes a fragile repackaging of the show earlier in the week and serve as a messy coda to several days of recriminations. It also sets the stage for a potential lawsuit between Dick Clark Prods. and NBC over show costs.

On Monday, even as the WGA said it would still picket the Beverly Hilton, NBC retooled the Globes as an NBC News event, with the possible presence of "Access Hollywood," "Today" and other NBC personalities.

But sources said the HFPA and Dick Clark Prods., with whom the network has a contract, was incensed with what it perceived as a loss of creative control. It sought more influence over who would appear on the program.

At the same time, a dispute brewed between Dick Clark and NBC over clips to be delivered for a "Dateline" show. Sources say the network had agreed to pick up all of Dick Clark's preproduction costs for the show, an amount estimated at $1.25 million, in exchange for the clips. But Dick Clark said it was entitled to a separate fee for the graphics package as part of the three-hour block it was offering the network. The clips were never delivered and a check was never cut.

The dispute over the clips, however, was just a prelude to Friday's fireworks. That's when Dick Clark and the HFPA, still upset over creative control, asked for a fee -- either below $1 million or at $1 million, depending on which side is estimating it -- that NBC would pay for airing exclusively a Globes-branded telecast. (NBC normally pays about $5 million to air the Globes.)

Dick Clark acknowledged the fee request in a statement that read, in part, "NBC wanted to have an exclusive three-hour broadcast special disguised as a news conference that would bar all other media, and yet was unwilling to pay a nominal license fee."

NBC declined comment, but sources said the network was fuming over what it considered an unfair and unexpected request and an amount that it believed was more than nominal.

At the heart of the dispute was the nature of the quasi-press conference. NBC has claimed that it shouldn't be required to pay money for a live news event. The HFPA and Dick Clark, meanwhile, said that a press conference was a Globes-branded event that also excluded other broadcast networks and as such should command a fee.

At that point, the network declined to pay, tensions boiled over, and by Friday afternoon the HFPA decided to go to what amounts to its nuclear option: removing NBC's involvement. (With the shelving of the original Globes ceremony, the group may have the legal right to do so.)

That reportedly angered NBC further, and while sources said it hasn't gone so far to sever its contract to telecast the Globes for the coming years, it is contemplating a lawsuit for what it says is millions of dollars in show-preparation costs.

All the sniping means that the Globes will go from a news conference produced and controlled by NBC to an HFPA-driven event that will be open to any network that wants to cover it.

Presenting at the conference will be a slew of anchors of entertainment newsmagazines, including Brooke Anderson of "Showbiz Tonight," Dayna Devon of "Extra," Mary Hart of "Entertainment Tonight," Jim Moret of "Inside Edition," Giuliana Rancic of "E! News Daily" and Lara Spencer of "The Insider," the HFPA announced late Friday. Notably missing are the hosts of NBC's "Access Hollywood," who had inadvertently become a bone of contention between NBC and HFPA.

ABC, CBS and Fox on Friday said they won't preempt their Sunday programming to cover the news conference. TV Guide Network, which already was planning to air in-studio preshows and postshows anchored by Chris Harrison and Maria Sansone, confirmed that it's planning to air the conference without commercials. Correspondents presumably will offer comments on the winners during the breaks.

E! also is setting up cameras in the room to broadcast the one-hour announcement in an E! News presentation with Ryan Seacrest. E! also is planning to stream the event on its Web site.

Los Angeles' KNBC is expected to air the show live at 6 p.m. PT.

NBC is still in the picture with a two-hour "Dateline" preshow. But it won't include Golden Globes clips owned by Dick Clark; it will center on a series of celebrity interviews as well as clips obtained from other sources.

Friday's public battle continued what had been weeks of drama and a chasm between parties that began to grow increasingly wide. The HFPA had for weeks been pushing NBC to walk away so a picket could be lifted and stars could attend. But NBC had resisted, saying that contractually it had the right to force a postponement because the show couldn't go on as planned and urging the HFPA to allow that postponement.

The result was the so-called compromise, now imploded, that appeared to make neither side happy: an NBC News-driven telecast that was on schedule, scaled down and would include no stars.

Kimberly Nordyke in Los Angeles contributed to this report.