Sacrifice the Golden Globes, but save the Oscars

[7 January 2008]

By Barry Koltnow

The Orange County Register (MCT)

More than 10,000 Hollywood writers are on strike, but they’re still managing to write a pretty interesting scenario as we head into the final weeks of movie awards season.

As of this writing, the Golden Globes telecast Jan. 13 is in serious danger of being rendered insignificant. Representatives of the Writers Guild of America are saying that there will be no waiver for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the 82-member group that runs the Globes. Without a waiver, pickets will block the entrance to the Beverly Hilton hotel and “A” celebrities will not cross the picket line.

Without “A” celebrities, the event will become a non-event, as it was before a lucrative television contract made it an event. I can think of worse things that could happen in Hollywood than having the Golden Globes reduced to a joke - again.

After all, no one really cares about the Golden Globes, except for the 82 members of the HFPA, Dick Clark Productions, NBC and movie marketing people who hype the winners in newspaper ads and television commercials for exactly eight days. On Jan. 22, the Oscar nominations will be announced, and no one will care about the Golden Globes anymore.

Trust me, when a celebrity dies, his or her obituary never begins: “Golden Globe winner so and so.” But it might begin “Oscar nominee so and so.” It definitely will begin: “Oscar winner so and so.”

So, before anyone sheds any tears about the poor Golden Globes, let’s put the awards show into perspective. It is meaningless. It’s just another TV special. If it is pulled from the television schedule, you’ll find something better to watch.

The writer’s strike is, however, having a profound impact elsewhere.

I don’t have to tell you that the nightly TV grid has been impacted. Most prime-time shows are in reruns, and we’re left with night after night of reality programs, quiz shows and Beyonce commercials. How many products is that woman hawking? I’m surprised she has time for a music career.

But I can survive a glut of Beyonce commercials. I can get past the annoying reality programs. And I can swim through a torrent of quiz shows, even those hosted by Howie Mandel.

I am much more concerned about the future of the Oscars telecast on Feb. 24.

The WGA is playing hardball, dangling the lifeless body of the Golden Globes in front of the industry as a threat and a show of strength.

“We killed your Globes, and we’re not afraid to kill your Oscars.”

I don’t think the writers are suicidal enough to sacrifice the Oscars for their cause. But I could be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.

They may be in this for the long haul, willing to chalk up this entire awards season (except for the Screen Actors Guild awards, which received a waiver) to satisfy their strike demands, which include a share of future Internet profits.

If the union blinks, and offers a waiver to the Oscars, I won’t be disappointed. I don’t think anyone around the country would be disappointed. A lot of people are suffering through tough times, and a night of glitter and glamour is a nice escape. If the Oscars are canceled, or diminished in any way, I suspect that the writers are going to lose a lot of a public support.

Personally, I think they lost some of that support last week when Jay Leno explained that he agreed to return because he no longer felt that 19 people (writers) should keep 160 people (non-writers) from feeding their families.

Until that moment, I don’t think anyone realized that it took 19 overpaid writers to put together that monologue each night. It’s good, but not that good.

Anyway, I digress.

I would like to see the Oscars telecast proceed as planned, and I believe that I have a possible solution that might satisfy both sides of the dispute.

The WGA could issue a special waiver to the Oscars, allowing “A” celebrities to cross the picket lines to present and accept gold statuettes in exchange for a few minor adjustments in how the show is run.

Presenters would walk to the podium accompanied by well-known union songs sung by Joan Baez. Standing in front of a large TV screen showing clips from “Norma Rae,” the presenters would be required to cite at least one major WGA contract demand before listing the nominees in a particular category. By the end of the night, all of the important demands would be covered.

Instead of the usual boring acceptance speeches, acting winners should be prepared to deliver in its entirety the Tom Joad “I’ll be everywhere” speech from the classic film “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Winners in the makeup, sound and costume categories would need only to raise their fists in protest.

Published at: