By December, the tv schedule is often dominated by holiday specials. But this year, wedged between the saccharine Hallmark films and tree-lighting specials, is a slew of prestige programs that are bowing just in time to make a mark with Golden Globes voters.
Given the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s history of celebrating new, underdog and sometimes populist programming, it’s no wonder. The body has a proven track record of putting emerging series and actors on the map for awards consideration.
Look no further than the 2018 Globes darling, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which secured a comedy series win for Amazon and comedy actress victory for its leading lady Rachel Brosnahan. Although the pilot dropped in spring 2017, the rest of its first season came at the end of last November. And after the HFPA recognized the show in January, the Television Academy followed suit with the Emmys in September, awarding Amy Sherman-Palladino’s series eight trophies.
“I have always seen a correlation between new shows that were honored at the Golden Globes and shows that went on to secure Emmy nominations — not always wins, but certainly acknowledgement,” says Richard Licata of Licata & Co., whose company worked with Amazon on awards strategies. “The HFPA is inadvertently almost offering a service to Academy members who are overwhelmed by the voluminous programming out there by saying, ‘You can watch a lot of other shows, but these are five shows that you probably should not miss. These are five performances that you probably should not miss.’ And that kind of takes the pressure off.”
This time, Amazon is releasing the second season of “Maisel” just one day ahead of Globe nominations in December, allowing it to squeeze into consideration just under the wire. The streamer is certainly offering up plenty to grab Globe voters’ attention, having released the Julia Roberts starrer “Homecoming” in early November, and Matthew Weiner’s star-studded followup to “Mad Men,” “The Romanoffs,” in mid-October.
That lineup will face tough competition from the other streamers as well. Netflix typically boasts a robust year-round release strategy, but its highly anticipated Emma Stone and Jonah Hill vehicle “Maniac” dropped at the end of September — weeks before some of its other high-profile releases, including “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” with “Mad Men” alum Kiernan Shipka and the final, Kevin Spacey-free season of “House of Cards,” which puts Robin Wright front-and-center.
The prestige cablers are also getting in on the game: HBO dropped Jennifer Garner’s “Camping” in October, followed in November by the adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s bestselling “My Brilliant Friend,” whose international flair will certainly spark HFPA voters’ interest. Showtime is offering up Ben Stiller’s directorial foray into scripted drama with the Patricia Arquette and Benicio Del Toro-led “Escape at Dannemora.” And it also has “Kidding,” starring Jim Carrey.
According to Showtime’s executive vice president of research, program planning and scheduling, Kim Lemon, awards eligibility and getting in front of voters is sometimes a consideration when scheduling a premiere, as was the case when Showtime moved the release of “Patrick Melrose” up slightly in order to hit the Emmy eligibility deadline. But it’s not the primary driver of his scheduling strategy.
“It is a happy coincidence; we aren’t really scheduling to have a show hit right before the awards,” Lemon says. “My situation has become a lot more complicated over the last couple of years. We used to roll out shows four times a year quarterly to premiere our big tentpoles, but over the last couple of years we’ve gone to a monthly strategy that factors it all in.”
Lemon admits that getting Globe recognition is great promotion for both the network and its programming, and that awards success drives a spike in viewership. But when it comes to launching shows later in the year — and specifically with “Dannemora” — the strategy also reflects the hope of capturing year-end binge viewers.
“I love having it available over the holidays because I think we’re going to have a very long tail of viewers,” he says. “It’s also great that the show is going to be in front of the Globes; it hopefully will get a lot of attention as well. So that’s kind of the perfect storm and a great example of everything working together.”
How the Globes and the Emmys work together in the bigger picture, however, is still contested. Some feel it’s the 90-odd HFPA members that work to influence the 22,000 or so Emmy voters, while others argue the Emmys actually have more influence on the Globes, as was seen in the way the first season of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” played out on the awards circuit. Whether the winners match up or not, however, there’s no discounting that by bowing at the top of the year, the Globes certainly set the tone.
“I have never worked with a television network or client that wasn’t concerned about getting in front of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.,” adds Licata. “It seems like everybody knows that that is the first stop on the awards train.”