Dark horses jostle for kudos crown

Showbiz awards up 65% from last year

Showbiz is reeling from the whole kudos kit-and-kaboodle.

By the time the year ends, the industry will have handed out 4,025 trophies at 564 ceremonies — a 65% increase over last year. The total averages out to 1.5 ceremonies every day, with an award handed out every two hours, 365 days a year.

This year’s roster included such prizes as the Grammys, the Ammys, the Bammies and the Wammys. There are also the Bambis, Pixies, Logies, Webbys, Rockies and the Outies (though there are no Innies).

But the oodles of kudos is only one plot twist to the awards scenario as the season kicks into high gear.

The Baftas have moved up their ceremony two months, threatening to alter Academy Award campaigning.

In addition, new awards are being announced regularly (such as the recent unveiling of the American Film Institute’s “AFI Movies of the Year” and “AFI Moments of Significance”), while existing awards are being revamped (such as the European Film Awards, which is hoping to alter its voting procedure, star participation and ceremonies).

And the studios themselves have added new wrinkles in the race for Oscar — which is the gold standard of showbiz handouts.

This year, there are many strong possibilities for Academy Award noms, but nothing is a sure bet. This means that Hollywood will capitalize on the flood of trophies as never before.

Since a lot of money is riding on the Oscar races — a win in a major category can add tens of millions to a pic’s box office performance — studios are putting their campaigns into overdrive.

The screenings are more frequent, the parties and tubthumping are more energetic — and the touting of awards in ads and promos is becoming ever more aggressive.

It’s not surprising: The phrase “wide-open race” has been used frequently this year to describe the Oscar derby, but it’s an understatement.

In some years, there are a few films that seem sure bets for a bunch of Academy Award noms (“Forrest Gump,” “Titanic,” etc.) At other times, only half of the available slots seem like shoo-ins. This year: no guarantees for anyone.

The only sure things in 2000 are that studios will trumpet their festival citations and crix picks, while other awards will try to raise their profile in the shadow of Oscar.

The Variety tally of this year’s awards marks a huge jump from 1999, when 3,182 prizes were handed out at 252 ceremonies.

Variety only tallies trophies given to showbiz achievements, including prizes from guilds, academies and film fests. Not counted are recognitions such as humanitarian prizes, honorary degrees and magazines’ “most powerful” lists.

Overall, it’s been an amazing year for awards. The post office lost Academy Award ballots, Oscar statuettes were stolen, and there was a snafu with Emmy ballots.

Still, there seemed to be no glitches when various orgs were handing out the Golden Boots, the Golden Lion, the Golden Calves and the Golden Starfish. There are the Vague d’Or, the Dada Saheb Phalke, the Deutsche Fernsehpreis and, of course, the Deadly Sounds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Awards.

There are also the (Fred) Astaire Awards, the Lucy (Ball) Awards, the Gracie (Allen) Awards, the (Alfred) Hitchcocks, the Stanley Kubrick, the Billy Wilder and the David Niven.

But in a prize-filled year, a special award goes to the Source Hip-Hop Awards, in which fistfights ended the ceremony early.

No problem. The perpetrators always know that within a few hours, another awards show will begin.