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THB #182: Should The Globes Exist?
There are many who think that all awards are just silly. Indulgent, self-congratulatory, unnecessary.
This column is not for you today. You’ve already decided.
The Academy Awards were built on self-promotion of movies all those years ago, an exclusive private club of people who already had money and power, congratulating themselves, celebrating themselves, and selling their wares to a public that wouldn’t see behind the curtain of glamour.
The Academy, in its fearful wisdom, no longer promotes theatrical movies as the central notion of the organization’s existence.
That’s another conversation.
If you want to support voices that are not the same as are being blasted every day….
There has been a wave of pro-HFPA promotion in the media lately, mostly by Penske-owned outlets with both a step-separated financial interest in the continuation of the Golden Globes (ad revenue) and a direct financial interest in the continuation of the Golden Globes, as Penske is a partner with Todd Boehly in Media Rights Capital (MRC) which purchased what has been Dick Clark Productions and is being renamed “MRC Live & Alternative.” Boehly is currently “interim” CEO of HFPA.
After being rebuked by much of the industry after the LA Times expose’ on the organization in 2021, NBC decided not to air the show last January. Whether the concern was sincere or a way to avoid paying HFPA the annual $60 million licensing fee during the extreme COVID downturn in award show ratings is anyone’s guess.
HFPA got to work trying to return to their business. Even though the LA Times expose’ wasn’t about race - there were, as everyone in the awards industry knew for many years, no black members in HFPA - that became the focus. So that became the focus of HFPA trying to fix things.
They brought in 6 whole Black people amongst the endlessly touted 21 new members. That left the international organization with 18 Asians, 12 Latinos, 8 Blacks, and 67 Whites. Wow!!!
It resolved nothing in terms of the financial malfeasance of the organization. In fact, it highlighted the core of the HFPA con… keep the group small enough to gain direct financial benefits from its status in Hollywood, which is based on absolutely nothing besides being the largest - albeit minor - promotional weigh station on the road to Oscar.
A group that has hundreds of members (or 10,000) can certainly be given perks. But not in any way to the degree to which 80something or even 105 can.
“The HFPA are considering adding outsiders who are not journalist HFPA members to vote for the Globes, in order to diminish the power and influence of the original voters.”
In other words, outside votes to increase the number of people voting, but not the number of people being paid out of the pot.
The pro-HFPA pieces seem to forget that Boehly’s plan is to take the organization private, so they can spend their $60 million a year (plus the many millions in annual benefits generously afforded by the studios) as they like, outside of the prying eyes of the media, the public, or that nasty old IRS that requires them to come clean annually as a not-for-profit.
So… it’s a financially corrupt organization planning on being as corrupt as they please moving forward… none of your business, budinskis, thanks.
But let’s get to the headline question of this piece. Is there a reason for The Golden Globes to exist outside of the habit of having them there as a marketing crutch?
I would answer, “no.”
“The Golden Globes are a key link in the chain of awards-giving leading to the Oscars. This year there were fewer opportunities to build buzz and anticipation for awards contenders, and the Globes were missed.”
Uh, no they are not. They are a pilot fish.
HFPA has always been little more than a reflection of Oscar. The old teams at Dick Clark Productions and NBC did a great job of turning the show into a cocktail party with all your favorite celebrities. Hit show! (Don’t think to much about the group or their place in the industry, thanks.)
The closest to the normally much higher Oscar ratings they have ever gotten to The Globes was 2021, just 3.5 million viewers separating them. 2020 had just 5.3 million separating them. And 2018, had a separation of only 7.6 million viewers.
Before that, 20 to 30 million more Oscar viewers was the norm for a very long time. (The Globes aired on NBC for the first time in 1996 and had more than 4 million viewers for the first time... and except for COVIDy 2021, they’ve never had fewer than 14.8 million viewers.)
But the proximity to Oscar has been created mostly by the failure of The Academy to maintain Oscar viewership during Dawn Hudson’s tenure. You can seen on this chart that when she was hired in 2011, she inherited a show with a then-problematic 37.9 million viewers. Ratings went up for three seasons and then the 2015 Oscars had just 37.3 million viewers and has never matched that figure since. The last two seasons had the worst ratings in modern Oscar history.
Besides the COVID dip in 2021, The Globes have been pretty consistent. Secondary, but consistent… like the Oscars used to be.
Throughout the shared history of these two award shows, The Golden Globes have never moved the box office needle for the competing movies. They have always been timed to parallel the release of Oscar nominations… which have moved the box office needle for the nominees…less so lately… streaming.
There is probably a correlation for the streamers of an uptick in viewing of the awards movies by already-paying subscribers, yes. But that begs the question of the purpose of the Oscars… different discussion.
People can tell you all they like that The Globes matter. But they cannot offer you any facts that back it up.
“The publicists need to recognize that [the HFPA] have made the changes and move on,” veteran publicist Melody Korenbrot told (Anne Thompson) on the phone. “Everybody wants to get back to business. If we don’t embrace these people soon, all we will have is the Oscars, with no stepping stone for anybody.”
There you have it.
HFPA hasn’t really made any changes of significance.
But the business around the Globes is significant. Lots of money.
Everyone wants to get back to business.
I have enormous respect for Melody Korenbrot and a lot of real affection. And she has a business. And she hires a lot of people. I don’t mock that in any way. We all need to pay the rent and the staff.
And The Golden Globes are a chunk of her annual revenues, mostly because of her long knowledge and insight into the membership of HFPA. She knows how to manage those members as well as anyone out there. Is it 10% of her company’s annual income? 20%? I have no real idea.
But the point is, it’s business. It has nothing to do with the work of cinema. It has nothing much to do with directly promoting Oscar.
How much of the Penske trade revenue is connected to The Globes? Again… 10%? 20%? Hard to separate the Oscar nomination push from the Globes push. But you can be sure there are a lot of pages sold specifically catering to what were 80something HFPA members… a lot of events, co-created by the trades and the distributors… etc. (Note: In most years, Academy voting closes before HFPA gives out their awards, making mock of any honest claims of influence.)
On top of that, with control of the HFPA, which Penske’s direct business partner currently has as CEO, there is a big chunk of cash to be mined. And on top of that, given how The Academy has self-destructed in recent years, there is the very real possibility that The Golden Globes could out-rate The Oscars and become the dominant award show moving forward. Then the money grows exponentially.
And I circle around again…
Why Do We Need The Golden Globes To Exist?
1. The Organization doesn’t have any power as a group of media voices.
2. The Organization’s nominations are reflective of a process of narrowing that starts in the summer and has nothing to do with the HFPA. Distributors have already decided what The Oscar Season is going to look like this year, with the first separation of players from pretenders (50 seriously contending titles to 30) during the Venice/Telluride/Toronto window, with a small kicker in New York. A half dozen new contenders show up in November, but another 15 fall off in the run from NYFCA to LAFCA to CCA and The Globes nominations (not last year).
3. They don’t contribute in any significant and measurable way to the success or failure of the awards movies.
4. They don’t improve the situation for The Oscars by being a major precursor or harbinger that excites the public or the industry.
5. They do share some of their money with philanthropic and film organizations. But at what percentage and, in some cases, to what organizations that are otherwise connected to members? And if they come back, will their charitable giving continue, aside from being a tax dodge?
Here is the only honest reasons I can think of that The Golden Globes should exist:
1. They create a pot of money for associated businesses in the film/tv industry, including media, consultants, publicists, and MRC.
2. They serve as a publicity opportunity for Oscar promoters in January.
Of course, I have argued for many years that The Academy Awards need to move to January themselves and not try to raise excitement about the previous year’s movies months after the previous year has ended. It’s 2023, gang… not 1990. We have the internet, social media, and an Academy screening streaming platform. Catch up!
We now have awards shows that have no clear connection to the content they are awarding. Seasons have been obliterated. The same old, same old will not work.
CCA is not going to become the next Golden Globes unless the organization (of which I am a quiet member) figures out a lot better show. If there is a Machiavelli involved up to taking control of the award season, they haven’t presented yet. (Joey Berlin’s achievement getting the group where it’s gotten is impressive. And it’s nice that they are spending their money on real efforts at diversity and movie love.)
Oscar has been killing itself for years by pushing against its own purpose.
And The Golden Globes...
The Golden Globes are a scam, just like Carlos DeAbreu’s and then Dick Clark Productions’ Hollywood Film Awards were and National Board of Review continues to be.
If HFPA wants to be legitimate, open it up to the world of film journalists and truly represent the world of non-LA/NY film writers. Minimum 400 members. God bless you. If they really embrace change, i will happily change my tune, as much as 180 degrees.
But really, no one needs The Globes. It’s a waste of time and money. It’s a habit, not a valuable institution.
If The Globes disappeared - as they did last season - no one would notice but the directly affected and the awards OCDers. We are all being entertained to within an inch of our lives already.
Some people might need to get a new Mercedes every other year. I’m sure they will be okay.
Addition by subtraction.
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