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Golden glow being muted?

Next year's earlier Oscars date may dim the perceived influence of foreign press picks.

August 08, 2003|Robert W. Welkos | Times Staff Writer

Regarded for years primarily as an excuse to party before the more staid main event, the Golden Globes have gained strategic significance as a bellwether in the increasingly ferocious battle for the Academy Awards. Next year, however, the Globes will have to settle for basking in the reflected glow, because voting on nominations for the Oscars will close before the Globes are announced.

"If people have the perception that we influence the [Oscar] nominations, it's not going to happen," said Lorenzo Soria, the recently installed president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which sponsors the Golden Globes. "The results of the Golden Globes are going to be announced after the nominations are closed."

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' decision to move its ceremony up a month -- to Feb. 29, 2004 -- set off a chain reaction of shifting dates among all the awards ceremonies leading up to the Oscars. The Golden Globes settled on Sunday, Jan. 25, more than a week after balloting closes Jan. 17 for Oscar nominations, and five weeks before the earliest Academy Awards in years.

Joey Berlin, president of the Broadcast Film Critics Assn., described the new order as a "sea change" in the way the movie awards season has traditionally unfolded.

"A big part of the Golden Globes' rise to prominence is the concept that they affect the Academy Awards voting," Berlin said. "But the Globes telecast itself will no longer influence the Oscar nominations."

Carlos de Abreu, founder of the Oct. 15-20 Hollywood Film Festival, which could get more attention as a platform for Oscar candidates because of the tightened season, said he believes the Oscar guessing game "will be harder to gauge, ... and whoever wins [the Golden Globes] will not be relevant in terms of determining the Oscar nominees."

Although it seems unlikely, Berlin surmises that any role the Globes have played will be partially filled now by his organization's Critics Choice Awards, the only televised movie awards show that comes before the Oscar nomination ballots are in and counted. Those awards will be announced Jan. 10 and will air on the E! Entertainment cable network.

No matter what happens, said Terry Press, who heads marketing at DreamWorks SKG, the Golden Globes will remain popular for their lavish televised party, even if the winners will no longer be able to influence the Oscar nominations.

"It used to be that [the Golden Globes] winners had impact," she said. "Now, it's their nominations," which will be announced Dec. 18. "Are they going to be seen as tea leaves? Not their winners. But I think they will continue to be hugely influential ... and because the show combines movies and television, which attract the stars, it will continue to be a great show."

Veteran Oscar campaign consultant Tony Angelotti agreed that instead of focusing on who wins the Golden Globes, the studios and independents with Oscar aspirations will now have to concentrate on whoever is nominated for Golden Globes. Those nominations, he surmised, "will muster even more importance than the wins."

But because the Globes spread top nominations across two groups (dramas and musicals/comedies) of five nominees in each of three categories (picture, actor, actress), they become less useful as a barometer for the more exclusive Oscars.

While the attention to awards shows may seem a bit premature to an outside world still basking in summer, the Hollywood publicity machine already is gearing up for the next awards season. Just this week, the academy named Revolution Studios partner Joe Roth producer of next year's show.

In recent years, Oscar voters have had plenty of time to digest the results of the Golden Globes show, make a note to catch any film honored by the Globes, and then go about their business selecting nominees for the Academy Awards.

Hollywood figures who closely follow developments concerning the movie awards season believe that one reason the academy moved its Oscar ceremony on ABC from late March to late February was to blunt the growing impact of the Golden Globes, which is televised on rival network NBC.

Bruce Davis, the academy's executive director, scoffs at suggestions that the Golden Globes have that big an influence on the 6,000-plus academy members who cast their ballots each year for the Oscars.

"I don't think our members are as influenced by the Golden Globes as the Golden Globes people think," Davis said.

For his part, Soria, who writes for the Italian newspaper La Stampa, said that whatever influence the Golden Globes has on the Oscar race "isn't something we control or try to achieve."

"We are not looking to influence the Academy Awards or any other awards," he said. "What we are trying to do is have the most credible awards and have the best possible awards show we can."

So why did the Golden Globes choose Jan. 25 to air its next show? Some say the choice was for TV ratings over clout.

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