HFPA relishes being first to anoint rookie shows
Coming off an Emmys ceremony that left many reeling, the TV portion of the Golden Globes arrives with no stagy bits nor cheesy retrospectives.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. likes to distance itself from Emmy voters as much as possible, and not just for reasons such as an ill-fated “Laugh-In” reunion. Rather, it’s the choices between the two bodies that often create a great divide.
Because the Golden Globes is the first awards show to recognize rookie series that launched during the fall, HFPA folks are at an advantage in signifying which shows audiences should be paying attention to.
Well-reviewed skeins new to the airwaves that voters may have a liking for include J.J. Abrams’ “Fringe” on Fox, “The Mentalist” on CBS and “Life on Mars” on ABC. On the cable side, there’s a critical fanbase for HBO’s “True Blood” and FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,” as well as TNT’s “Raising the Bar” and USA’s “In Plain Sight.”
“Everything is wide open this year. It’s hard to say what’s going to get traction,” says longtime member Jenny Cooney Carrillo. “A lot of the shows that got nominated last year are out of the running, and there are (fewer) new shows now — and none of the new ones really came out of the gate as a critical winner.”
There are several skeins ineligible for Globes love this time around that have been HFPA-friendly in the past. “Big Love” hasn’t aired a new episode since August 2007, “Damages” won’t begin season two until January, and HFPA fave “The Office” — the Ricky Gervais version — is off the air.
According to several members of the HFPA, ratings don’t play a part in determining nominees.
“They never do,” says Scott Orlin, who writes for several German publications. “Some of my secret pleasures have been shows that have lasted only one year, like ‘Jack & Bobby.'”
There haven’t been any ratings smashes this season, with “The Mentalist,” “Fringe” and CW’s “90210” performing better than most.
Some see “Fringe” as a possible Globes fave because of the sci-fi element of the show. The genre was certainly favorable to “The X-Files,” as the David Duchovny/Gillian Anderson starrer earned three wins as best drama.
“‘Fringe’ is growing on me,” says Cooney Carrillo. “It’s the kind of show that translates very well internationally because it’s so visual. It doesn’t lose as much when translating dialogue and putting new voices in.”
Indeed, the global panoply of voter backgrounds is often cited as a reason the HFPA hasn’t embraced the traditional sitcom as much as the Emmys.
For all the success of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the CBS laffer was never nominated by the HFPA, and “Two and a Half Men” — the highest-rated comedy for the past several years — hasn’t been either. Of last year’s comedy nominees, none were shot in front a studio audience and three were cable entries.
“I don’t know what it is,” says Oz native Cooney Carrillo. “Our comedy taste as foreigners is much less mainstream. I guess what makes you laugh, makes you laugh. You can’t compete objectively.”
Adds Orlin: “We got slammed for ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ but art is subjective. Because these people (HFPA members) come from different cultures, they find different things funny. Our members have a different sense of humor.”
Rocio Ayuso, who writes for Spanish national newspaper El Pais, finds it interesting that there’s been an influx of shows that have had their origins overseas before being reformatted for the States. Examples include “Ugly Betty” (Colombia); “American Idol,” “The Office” and “Life on Mars” (U.K.), “Hole in the Wall” (Japan); and “Kath & Kim” (Australia). (It should be noted that while the Emmys have made a concerted effort to include reality shows and hosts in recent years, the Globes haven’t embraced reality programming.)
Whether reformatted shows will resonate with HFPA members this winter is hard to say — though “Betty” certainly has, as both the show and star America Ferrera have won — but Ayuso sees irony in all the imports.
“I’ve spent my whole life outside the U.S. looking at American TV as the gold standard, and now I’m here and the shows I’m watching have all brought their ideas from outside the U.S.,” she explains.
And while the Globes like to shine a spotlight on new series, voters realize that their audiences at home are much more familiar with those skeins that have run several years.
Regarding the favorite shows in her native Spain, Ayuso says, “‘House’ is very popular. The only doctor more famous than Hugh Laurie is George Clooney.”