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How the Hollywood Foreign Press Chooses its Noms

An Imagined Inside Look

For all the glamor that surrounds them, the Golden Globes — and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which presents them — remain something of a mystery. After all, fewer than 90 international journalists vote upon these prestigious honors, but they wield outsized clout, representing as they do a kickoff to the highly competitive award season.

Fortunately, with the help of a hidden microphone (actually, really just an overactive imagination), your humble columnist was able to penetrate the HFPA’s annual meeting just before the members settled on their TV nominations. Because really, if we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that Americans listen in on other people’s conversations better than anybody.

Although garbled in places, the discussion went something like this:

“OK, what about the TV awards? Has anybody actually watched all of these series?”

“God no.” (Murmurs of agreement, laughter.) “Are you kidding? I barely made it through all of the movie screeners.”

“So we just nominate every movie star we can find, like usual? Pass me that list of Q scores, will you?”

“No, it’s more complicated than that. Besides, there are so many actors known primarily for movies doing TV now, we’d still have some whittling down to do.”

“Let’s not forget eye candy, either. These ceremonies have as much to do with fashion these days as movies or TV. We want people who are going to look good on the red carpet.”

“On the plus side, just look at this list of potential nominees. Idris Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matt Damon …”

“Wait, aren’t those are the movie nominations?”

“Nope, they all did TV movies or miniseries this year, too.”

“Outstanding.”

“As for the rest of it, let’s be sure to spread the wealth around. Try to follow the old bridal adage — ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.’”

“Are you trying to describe our membership?” (Laughs.)

“I get the ‘new’ part — Netflix shows, ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine,’ Tatiana Maslany from ‘Orphan Black’ — but what’s ‘borrowed’ and ‘blue,’ exactly?”

“First, Michael Douglas and Matt Damon’s hair in ‘Behind the Candelabra,’ and second, just about anything on Showtime or Starz.” (Laughs, high fives.)

“There’s also a real invasion of British talent appearing on American television. Plus a lot of these networks are picking up international productions, like ‘Dancing on the Edge’ or ‘The White Queen.’”

“That certainly classes up the joint. And it won’t hurt the ratings overseas, either.”

“Really a tough year. No room for ‘Mad Men’ or ‘Homeland?’ Not even Claire Danes? That’s saying something.”

“Well, let’s not forget, an awards show is a show, first and foremost. Merit is important, yes, but we do have to inject a little pizzazz into these things. In that respect, the Globes can take some pride in having been a little bit ahead of the curve.”

“True. So just taking inventory, for the 11 TV categories, I count 31 different shows on 13 networks, including Netflix. That should fill up a lot of tables in the Beverly Hilton with beautiful, famous faces.”

“Wunderbar!”

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