Golden Globes telecast up for grabs

WGA won't picket Sunday's press conference

A financial squabble between NBC and Dick Clark Prods. was at the heart of the decision to open up Sunday’s first annual Golden Globes winners announcement to all media.

Peacock will still broadcast the event live–with “Access Hollywood” anchors Billy Bush and Nancy O’Dell hosting — but other outlets will be invited to do so as well. As a result, the WGA says it won’t set up pickets and won’t mind if stars stop by.

So far, however, ABC, CBS and Fox say they have no plans to air the presser. E! Entertainment has now decided to cover the press conference (but return to regular programming once it’s over), while TV Guide Network added the live announcement to his expanded four-hour Globes coverage.

The cable news nets are also likely to run some of the press conference, although nothing has been announced yet.

After a week of back-and-forth negotiations, NBC thought it had worked out a decent compromise that would allow the Globes to go on, albeit in a radically revamped form.

But according to Peacock insiders, Dick Clark Prods. ended up killing the plan “at the eleventh hour” by demanding NBC pay a license fee, estimated to be in the $1.5 million to $2 million range.

On the flip side, Dick Clark Prods. pegged that number as much lower, calling it a “nominal license fee” to pay for the exclusive use of Golden Globes clips during a two-hour “Dateline NBC” special.

Company also said the request wasn’t last minute, but had been a part of negotiations over the past week to keep the Globes alive.

Peacock execs are understood to be furious over the turn of events, and legal action against DCP is a possibility, one insider said.

A DCP statement confirmed that a request for more money caused more problems with the Peacock.

“NBC wanted to have an exclusive three hour broadcast special disguised as a news conference that would bar all other media, and yet was unwilling to pay a nominal license fee to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Dick Clark Productions,” the DCP statement read.  “The HFPA and Dick Clark Productions felt this arrangement was unfair and unacceptable and therefore opened up the event to all media.”

NBC insiders note that the Peacock had been willing to reimburse DCP nearly $3 million for pre-production costs incurred in the run-up to the Globes–even though, legally, the network had no obligation to so.

In exchange for reimbursing DCP, NBC asked that the company give “Dateline” exclusive use of those archival clips. Network thought it had a deal with DCP to do just that.

Request for an additional license fee, however, was “ridiculous,” one NBC partisan said.

“It would have been pure profit for them,” the source said. “What they were demanding was adding insult to injury.”

Others dispute that, however: By the time DCP and the HFPA split that money, it wouldn’t nearly make up for the lost revenue caused by this year’s cancellation, they said.

Meanwhile, it’s also believed that the plan fell apart after the HFPA decided it wanted more control over the press “announcement.”

According to insiders, the org was concerned with what it felt was the “Access Hollywood”-ization of the press conference – starting with the fact that Bush and O’Dell were slated to present the awards (even though it was an NBC News telecast).

Now, the HFPA has full control of the announcement, but DCP is no longer involved either.

NBC is so peeved by what’s happened, it’s decided to strike an elaborate set it had been building at the awards site.

With the HFPA now producing the event, it’s likely the news conference will now look like a news conference–rather than the fancier “event” NBC had planned.

“We’re taking our ball and going home,” an NBC insider said.

Because the contract with NBC to produce the Golden Globes was tossed out via force majeure, it’s unlikely there will be any legal action coming out of this mess – at least from the DCP. (The HFPA’s position is less known.)

“We have no intention to pursue litigation against anyone at this time,” the company said in a statement.

That’s not to say there isn’t a stick issue down the road: Whether this year’s cancellation means NBC’s pact with DCP and the Globes – now set to expire in 2010 – is bumped back by a year.

Peacock execs are still miffed that the HFPA refused to postpone the Globes–even though NBC execs believe their contract with DCP gives the network the right to insist on a postponement under the right circumstances.

On the opposite end, HFPA officials are said to be miffed that NBC wouldn’t agree to letting the kudofest continue sans cameras. A postponement was a non-starter for the HFPA, as it enjoys the Golden Globes’ position as a precursor to the Oscars.

With the Globes now reduced to a bare-bones news conference, some may argue that NBC might have been better off simply agreeing to forego any broadcast of the Globes so that an untelevised, un-picketed ceremony could have proceeded.

“But in that scenario, everyone would’ve gotten what they wanted, but NBC would’ve been killed (financially),” an NBC insider said, noting the net will still lose millions in ad revenue.