The uncertainty over whether there would be a traditional Golden Globes broadcast this coming Sunday (complete with glitz, stars, and open bar), or whether NBC and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association would make do with a star-free awards show has apparently ended, and the decision was...neither.
The HFPA officially announced Monday that due to the Writers Guild of America strike and the stated intention of the Screen Actors Guild to tell its members to not cross the picket line, the ceremony and all its attendant features (red carpet, dinner, parties) have been called off. In its place will be a HFPA news conference scheduled for 9:00 Eastern/6:00 Hollywood time on Sunday, during which the winners will be announced.
The event will be covered by NBC News, but the three hour Globes telecast is now canceled, making it the first major live event disrupted by the WGA strike. As for what will replace it, other than the one-hour news conference, it appears Dateline at 7:00 will air in lieu of the red carpet show, and will feature interview clips of various nominees. For 8:00, which is when the awards were supposed to begin originally, the Globes' producer, Dick Clark Productions, is putting together some sort of clip show focusing on past Globes shows. The 10:00 hour was supposed to feature party coverage, but most galas seem to be getting canceled. This being Hollywood, someone will surely find a way to stumble into the camera's line of sight even without a party as an excuse. Still, with no stars and with the weirdness of the whole event serving to remind viewers that a strike is in progress, there's no way to spin this into the sort of telecast that many are going to want to see.
The HFPA worked hard to get a waiver for the ceremony that would permit the use of a union writer or two for scripted banter, and ensure that no one in attendance would have to cross a picket line. Their rationale was that they are writers themselves, so why take it out on them? But the Globes are an industry showcase second only to the Academy Awards, and they have become a major ratings grabber for NBC since they began airing in prime time. Putting the screws to the industry and to NBC and denying them the promotional platform is very much part of the WGA agenda.
Doing a writers-free Globes would be simple enough, but the possibility of a boycott by the Screen Actors Guild was always the big threat to the awards. The writers have been closely allied with SAG, whose members provide the WGA with high-profile picketers and spokesmen. SAG received a waiver for its own awards ceremony later this month, but the writers made it clear they weren't inclined to deal with the HPFA or with Dick Clark Productions. When SAG made its final announcement late last week -- no attendance at the Globes, period -- it ended any chance that the awards would go on in its usual format. Some sort of picket-proof private party where awards would be doled out with all the ceremony of a kindergarten graduation was apparently considered -- this seems to be what CBS came up with for the Peoples Choice Awards, which airs tonight -- but it was still unlikely any actors would show, especially since the WGA was promising to picket (there might still be a picket for the news conference).
We're not too far away now from worrying about the implications for the Academy Awards, which was the highest-rated broadcast on ABC in 2007, higher than anything on television outside the Super Bowl. Handing out an Oscar in a TV studio just won't do.