Globes craziness intensifies

Big decision still up in the air

After weeks of maneuvering, negotiating and pleading from the constituencies involved in the Golden Globe Awards, NBC and Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. will on Monday unveil their plans for next Sunday night.

NBC brass, including NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker, conferred with HFPA leaders and execs from Dick Clark Prods. to hammer out a final decision on the fate of the ceremony. An announcement is expected midday Monday.

There were indications that the network was giving serious considering to stepping aside and allowing the ceremony to go on without being televised and thus without WGA pickets outside the Beverly Hilton. But because of the significant financial hit the loss would mean to the network, it’s understood that NBC brass were still mulling scenarios on Sunday for salvaging some form of telecast around the awards.

The consensus on Sunday was that the network appears ready to step aside and allow the ceremony to go on without being televised — and without WGA pickets raising a ruckus outside the Beverly Hilton hotel.

But some sources have also said that there will be nothing — no awards, no show — and that the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. will find another way to distribute the awards.

As late as Friday, NBC reps were adamant that the net intended to move forward with the telecast despite admonitions from SAG and the town’s major praiseries that none of the more than 70 thesps up for the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. honors would cross a WGA picket line to attend the show.

The WGA has not budged in its refusal to strike an interim agreement with Globes producer Dick Clark Prods., despite having cut such a deal with David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants late last month and being in negotiations with other independent production companies on similar pacts. Moreover, the guild made it clear last week that it would only hold back its pickets if the Globes became a private event that was not to be televised or webcast in any form.

The uncertainty surrounding the Globes has wreaked havoc among planners of the lavish affairs that traditionally follow the ceremony in the Beverly Hilton. Planners have been on 24/7 standby awaiting final word of the ceremony’s fate.

NBC has been trying come up with alternatives to salvage its broadcast of the event, which ranks as one of its major ratings-grabbing specials of the year and brings in an estimated $15 million to $20 million in ad coin. The network leaned hard on the HFPA to delay the ceremony, but the press org refused, fearing that the Globes would lose their significance if they lost their position as the precursor to the Academy Awards.

NBC pays HFPA a license fee of more than $6 million for rights to the Globes telecast. Dick Clark Prods. is understood to share in as much as half that fee. HFPA insiders say the org’s financial health would be strong enough to survive the loss for this year, but it would cut deeply into its annual grants for scholarships and film restoration projects. Tables for the dinner ceremony at the Hilton have been sold out as usual since the Globes noms were unveiled Dec. 13.

The most significant obstacle to NBC’s telecast of a traditional awards show came Friday when SAG and a clutch of publicity firms made it clear that no A-listers were prepared to cross a picket line to attend. SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg issued a statement on behalf of the actors guild Friday afternoon, followed a few hours later by a letter, addressed to NBC Universal prexy-CEO Jeff Zucker and widely distribbed to journos, from a dozen PR firms including PMK/HBH, 42West, BWR, Bragman Nyman Cafarelli, ID PR, Rogers and Cowan, Stan Rosenfield and Associates and Wolf, Kasteler and Associates.

“The vast majority of the talent we represent are not comfortable crossing a picket line,” the letter stated.

SAG held a meeting with Globe actor nominees on Friday morning, but it’s understood that the publicists had already been discussing the situation among themselves for weeks and knew that their clients wouldn’t show in the face of pickets. A few weeks ago, handful of key praisiery heads even helped broker discussions among the HFPA, Dick Clark Prods. and the WGA, to no avail.

As evidenced in a survey by Daily Variety last week (Daily Variety, Jan. 4), support for the WGA’s work stoppage remains strong despute the disruptions and growing financial hardship.

SAG’s Rosenberg said he was heartened by the solidarity. SAG, of course, has its own bare-knuckle negotiations with Hollywood’s majors looming as its contract runs out in June.

“This struggle isn’t only about our wages, it is about the future,” Rosenberg said during a SAG Foundation brunch held Sunday as part of the Palm Springs Film Festival. “Let us hope it is over soon with a fair deal for actors, writers and directors.”

As late as last week, Dick Clark Prods. and the HFPA held out hope for a breakthrough .

HFPA prexy Jorge Camara fairly pleaded with the guild for an agreement that would allow the awards to proceed status quo. The guild quickly responded with a statement citing the “crucial” stage of its labor action and reiterating its intent to dispatch pickets.

On Friday, as depth of the resolve among the actors became clear, HFPA issued a statement saying it expected to announce a resolution to “this unfortunate predicament” today. Dick Clark Prods. accused the WGA of favoritism, saying in a statement Friday, “It is apparent that we are being treated differently from similarly situated production companies.”

The Globes have been telecast annually since 1980 and have been on NBC since 1996.

The fate of the Globes isn’t the only strike-related fight that NBC has on its hands at the moment. Jay Leno, host of “The Tonight Show” and a WGA member, has drawn the guild’s ire for writing and performing his own monologue since the show resumed production Jan. 2.

In response to comments made by WGA West prexy Patric Verrone about the guild’s strike rules committee reviewing the Leno situation, NBC issued a statement saying that any investigation of the host would be a violation of federal labor law.

“Tonight Show” and NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” have been put on the defensive since resuming production last week in light of the guild’s interim pact with Worldwide Pants, producer of CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” and “Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.”

As the NBC and ABC shows struggle to book top guests, the L.A.-based Leno and Kimmel have agreed to the attention-drawing stunt of serving as guests on each other’s shows on Thursday night. Also back into the fray without writers, as of tonight, are Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report,” which are also likely to face WGA pickets outside their studios in Manhattan.

(Timothy M. Gray and Shali Dore contributed to this report.)