Ceremony collapses under weight of walkout

When the glitzy and star-studded Golden Globes gala dinner and awards ceremony was transformed into a one-hour press conference announcing the winners, one industry publicist observed it was like canceling a big wedding: The event may be off, but this close to the date, a lot of people have to be paid anyway.

It’s unclear how much cash has been flushed away on a Globes gala that will never happen — or how much will now go unspent. It’s certainly clear that some people are going to be financially hosed by the changes. According to previous reports, losses to the local economy could reach up to an estimated $80 million.

Yet some companies will find the cancellation a wash, and at least one may even come out ahead.

Many of the most affected orgs and companies, such as Globes organizer Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., telecast producer Dick Clark Prods. and hosting site Beverly Hilton, were struggling to find some kind of Plan B, and little of their exposure is likely to be covered by insurance unless they bought separate strike coverage riders.

NBC has seen some sponsors pull out and reportedly is giving back a major chunk of the $10 million-$15 million in ad revenues the three-hour show typically generates.

On the other hand, E! Network prexy Ted Harbert says his net might actually come out of this brouhaha ahead. Ads can be shifted to different programs, and now the network doesn’t have the expense of paying for a Sunday crew or satellite trucks.

E! has dropped its red-carpet special in favor of a marathon of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” with in-studio host Ryan Seacrest breaking into programming to give viewers updates of the winners.

Harbert has rebranded the evening as “Stay Home Sunday.””We’re taking the attitude that if the stars are staying home, we’re staying home,” he says. “These shows are about stars.”

Harbert adds that the cabler considered a post-press-

conference show to discuss who won and lost but came to the conclusion that his audience has come to expect celebrity chatter after an awards, not a round-table discussion.

“I don’t think people would watch that, people sitting around taking about it,” he explains. “In the past, for post-award shows we’ve had the stars and great interviews. That’s not available.”

TV Guide Channel may get out relatively unscathed as well. Net has shifted from red carpet coverage to a two-hour spesh. The net’s topper, Ryan O’Hara, says they don’t expect to lose any advertisers.

“We plan to shift certain sponsorships of red carpet coverage to our live pre-show at the SAG Awards as well as other award shows,” says O’Hara. “We sell packages across the five major award shows each year, and we’ve taken a proactive approach to make sure our advertising customers are taken care of in different ways.”

But the mood was glum at Dick Clark Prods., as execs faced the likelihood of laying off loyal suppliers and contractors. The Beverly Hilton is bound to take a hit. It would have catered all the events on the premises and was planning for 1,300 guests. Some of the deposits and fees by those holding a party or renting space will be forfeited, but a hotel spokesman says, “We will work with them to minimize their loss.”

The cancellation of the Globes’ red carpet is a big headache for the fashion world. The Globes provide a treasure-trove of photos of stars looking their best, especially of actresses wearing their favorite designers, and the ripples extend to the high-end makeup artists, hairdressers and stylists as well — those who primp the stars for the Globes.

The sun will rise, but …

Winners will be chosen and announced as part of a press conference that will be begin at 6 p.m. Pacific time Sunday from the Beverly Hilton, to be televised by NBC. The next morning, there will still be ads boasting “Golden Globe winner,” but certainly much of the joy and frivolity of being a champ has been evaporated.

Gone are the rambling acceptance speeches and the usual good-time atmosphere. Booze will not flow. Steven Spielberg’s Cecil B. DeMille honor has been pushed back to next year as well.

Moreover, the ecosystem around the event has been scorched.

The free publicity that award shows provide can be invaluable to modestly budgeted films seeking a wider audience in mid-America, which is why the studios embrace the Globes so much. “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” for one, would have been helped by having its clips broadcast. Now it seems unlikely substituting press conference coverage, even if they use clips, will have the same impact.

Then there are films that would have had huge exposure during a Globes telecast, such as “Atonement,” which garnered seven noms, more than any other pic. The film hasn’t fared as well at other kudo events, specifically the SAG Awards, where it didn’t earn a single nomination. And Tuesday, director Joe Wright was passed over for a Directors Guild of America nom.

Even if “Atonement” is to cash in on a few of those seven noms, no one from the film will get up on a podium; a charismatic Keira Knightley or handsome James McAvoy won’t make their case in front of millions of at-home viewers or Oscar voters.

Stars still need to tubthump their films, though, but without the platform of the Globes. Daniel Day-Lewis, for example, received honors at the Palm Springs Film Fest on Jan. 5, flew to Gotham for the New York Film Critics kudos, then flew back to Santa Monica for the Critics’ Choice Awards.

While there are no winners here, the SAG Awards might see its stature raised, with the entire acting community being on hand for the Jan. 27 kudofest. Their waiver safe in hand, SAG knows it has little or no chance of seeing its annual awards show being canceled or altered.

But in this upside-down awards season, nothing is certain.

Says Harbert: “I don’t think we thought the Golden Globes would get derailed this way, but, as we’ve seen, anything can happen.”

TIP SHEET:
What: HFPA/Golden Globes press conference
When: 6 p.m. PST Sunday
Where: Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills
Telecast: NBC

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