the pulse

Even minus a Globes ceremony, NBC decides to press the issue

Before embarking on this week's column, let's clear up a point of confusion: Awards shows are not for the nominees or the studios or even the greater Hollywood community. They are TV productions in and of themselves, commodities designed to help peddle soap and pizza to consumers. Those who participate in these shows are mere atmosphere, props, visual elements.

This revelation came flooding through when we learned on Monday that the 65th annual Golden Globe Awards telecast has been repackaged as "The 1st Golden Globes Newshour," a melange of clips, envelopes and absentee winners that casts things as less celebration than desperation.

Were it a classified ad, it would read, "Golden Globe trophies. Cheap. No attendance/speech necessary. Gratitude optional."

It's difficult to imagine how NBC and the Hollywood Foreign Press (Conference) Assn. could have done a more complete job in bungling a situation that seemed utterly cut-and-dried. After it was announced that the Screen Actors Guild had voted to honor the writers strike picket line and boycott the ceremony due to its being a TV show, NBC had a clear obligation to drop its Globe telecast and allow the Beverly Hilton ceremony to take place on Sunday as planned.

But the network opted instead to cling to the thinnest morsel of Globes participation, enlisting NBC News to capture all of the raw, momentous detachment and gripping anticlimax of a joyless, party-free affair that subs out the red carpet for a black cloud.

The point of this is, apparently, that the TV show must go on — even if there is no actual show to cover. The better option would have been to bag the broadcast so as to keep the Champagne dinner and awards ceremony intact. But that would have reinforced the notion that it is the awards, and the people who win them, that matter rather than the surrounding shameless hype.

They're calling this a compromise, and I can see the rationale. It's pretty much compromising everything that the Golden Globes hoped to achieve or represent. (Detractors still claim that the HFPA, even after the imprimatur of a national telecast each year, represents little more than the somewhat inflated opinions of 100 or so foreign journalists, many with only irregular freelance gigs.)

However, the past decade has seen a huge uptick in the Globes' perceived importance. That change has apparently led NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker — and HFPA president Jorge Camara — to believe that it's the results of the competition, rather than the event itself, that matter most. Wrong. It's the stars, stupid! No stars, no show. No show, no interest. No interest, no point.

The statement from Camara that accompanied the Monday announcement is telling. It concluded, "We take some comfort in knowing that this year's Golden Globe recipients will be announced on the date originally scheduled."

I know, I know, it's a money issue. NBC could have opted, as a savvy PR move, to allow the HFPA to stage an untelevised ceremony, with all of the attendant hoopla, and still fork over the license fee to the association. But instead, it will pay nothing and simply film the proceedings as a quickly cobbled together news reading.

At least those who win on Sunday can take some solace that they'll be able to claim their statuettes without having to get up off the couch.