Comedy is hard, but voting for comedy is harder, especially if you’re a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.
This year’s nomination of “The Tourist” for best comedy-musical likely may have received the ridicule of some, but did any of the tittering masses suggest a better choice? “Due Date”? “How Do You Know”? “Gulliver’s Travels”? The problem may not entirely be about choices, but the lack thereof.
Either way, the situation adds to the woes of the HFPA, which has found itself dodging spitballs once again this year. In a season relatively rich in drama and in dire need of a few genuine laughs, filling the five slots in their best comedy-musical category seemed to be a strain for Globes voters. But despite any derisive giggles over “The Tourist” or “Burlesque,” for that matter — another Globe nominee absent from most top 10 lists — HFPA prexy Philip Berk says no changes are in the works regarding how the group makes it selections. No all-inclusive Oscar-style, 10-strong best pic category, and no straying from the HFPA tradition, established in 1951, of splitting films and perfs into drama and comedy-musical sub-groups.
“I don’t think just because there’s a bit of a fallout this year that it means we would change anything,” Berk says of the voting process by the group’s membership. “It’s something that the movie stars we’ve interviewed consider one of the values of the Golden Globes — that we do recognize a musical/comedy category.”
Says longtime HFPA member Jenny Cooney Carrillo of making a switch: “I don’t think it’ll ever going to happen. We’re not going to change the format to make it 10 of anything. We’re not very big on change. We already came out with our 10 total nominees and then the Oscars copied us.”
Clearly feeling a bit under siege and using such terms as “absurd,” “appalling,” and “absolute lies and distortion,” Berk defends the choices of “The Tourist” and “Burlesque,” which competes against “Alice in Wonderland,” “Red” and “The Kids Are All Right.” “I’m not ashamed of it,” he says of “The Tourist.” “Our members happened to love this movie. Rightfully so, I can’t say. I see it as not unlike a film like ‘Midnight,’ a film made in the ’30s, in which the plot is preposterous, but it has a seductive quality to it. And Johnny Depp and Angelina (Jolie) are people we like to watch on the screen.
“That’s the answer to it. Why we are being condemned for choosing a film like ‘The Tourist?’ That we voted for it to get stars in the room? I’ve never heard of anybody filling out their ballot with the idea of helping Phil Berk get presenters at the Golden Globes. It’s all so absurd.”
The “Tourist” situation was an unusual one. Sony (which declined to comment) wanted it in drama. Director Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck, during long-lead interviews with HFPA members, had described it as a comedy.
“We said, ‘Well, obviously there’s a big conflict here,’ but we thought the director had the better idea,” Berk explains. “Our committee saw the film and unanimously put it in the comedy category.”
As for making sure laffers — a genre often disregarded by the Academy Awards — get their due at the Globes, Cooney Carrillo adds: “We acknowledge comedies and don’t treat them like an ugly stepchild.”
One rules change under consideration, Berk says, that is relevant to the current controversies, is how “musicals” are determined. Recently he said a committee was formed and the decision made that “the only way we classified a musical is if the musical numbers would further the plot, which is why a movie like ‘Country Strong’ didn’t qualify as a musical. It qualified as a drama, because it was basically a drama with a number of musical interludes.”
But there is now talk among members, he says — “not responding to what happened with ‘Burlesque’ or ‘The Tourist’?” — that the move was not in the group’s best interest.
“So we might reverse our decision,” says the HFPA chieftain.
No changes set for HFPA voting process | Feisty femme characters raise TV stakes
And the nominees are:
Drama | Comedy/Musical | Drama – Actor | Drama – Actress | Comedy – Actor | Comedy – Actress
Cecil B. DeMille Award: Robert De Niro
De Niro ranges from epics to Fokkers | Dangerous De Niro brought electricity to screen