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The no-show must go on

Don't let this happen again

January 14, 2008|Mary McNamara | Times Staff Writer

AS Top 40 radio is fond of reminding us, you never realize how much you love something until you lose it. In recent years, the Golden Globes takedown has become a required screed of the media. The show, we gripe, has become too over-hyped, too glitzy, too darn full of itself. What is it, really? The preferences of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., a handful of journalists known for leaving screenings when there aren't snacks.

Now, in the cold, bleak aftermath of a strike-stricken Golden Globes, we are left with the queasy anguish of regret -- how could we have ever taken the star-studded booze-fest at the Beverly Hilton for granted?

For those of you who wisely spent the evening rearranging your sock drawers or watching your TiVo queues of reruns, it was a less than magical night. Um, evening. OK, hour or actually 35 minutes depending on which network you chose to watch the awards . . . announcement.

KCBS, E!, CNN and TV Guide went bare-bones, airing the HFPA news conference, which clocked in at a nominee name-rattling 35 minutes, while NBC got a little fancier, enlisting the talents of Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell and a lot of film clips to create what played like an award-show farce on YouTube. "Wayne's World," meet the Globes.

I cannot stress this strongly enough: We must never let this happen again. Gil Cates, producer of this year's Academy Awards, if you are reading this, I don't care if you have to kidnap every member of the studio alliance and lock them in with the WGA until the two sides reach a deal, but you cannot let anything remotely like this happen to the Oscars. Cancel them if you must, or inform the winners by mail, because the only thing worse than all the over-hyped, over-covered awards shows the media loves to hate is the stripping bare of the process. You know something has gone seriously wrong when even wins by Daniel Day-Lewis and Julie Christie seem somehow diminished, their names just, well, names on a meaningless list.

Daniel Day-Lewis! Julie Christie! We need the exclamation points!

It becomes, actually, a philosophical question: If a winner is announced to the absence of applause, does anyone hear it? Not when that silence is immediately filled by the bloviations of Billy Bush. "You know, I thought it would be Amy Ryan," he said one beat after Cate Blanchett was announced as the winner of best supporting actress while calling Javier Bardem's win "a no-brainer. He's one of the best villains ever, right up there with Darth Vader." Javier, try to contain your gratitude.

NBC even had a jury-rigged preshow: "Dateline: Going for the Gold." Seriously. With the whole "To Catch a Predator" tenor, which lent a Mad magazine zaniness to the thing. For those who have wondered what the world would look like without a red carpet, now we know: It looks just like Matt Lauer. Stringing together a bunch of unedited celebrity interviews -- Sally Field speaks frankly! Nikki Blonsky takes her pug Rocky for a makeover on "Martha Stewart"!

Actually, all I can say is thank heaven for Nikki Blonsky. Or at least the Nikki Blonsky video. Some enterprising soul caught the young actress hunched on the sofa with her ill-lighted family as the nominations were announced last month and a clip of her almost clinically psychotic response -- both parents had to physically restrain her -- was perhaps the most entertaining portion of the evening. Which might explain why they ran the clip at least three times.

Over at KCBS, and everywhere else, the "news conference" went just as mind-numbingly as one assumed it would. Never in my life did I imagine I would miss Tony Snow. A coterie of entertainment "anchors" -- you know what I'm getting at when I tell you Mary Hart, in an unusually bright red dress, was the biggest celebrity present -- dutifully ground out the nominees for each category with all the verve of substitute teachers giving a biology quiz. Then they ripped open a gold envelope and oh yea, announced the winner. I found myself inexplicably longing for Chris Matthews, or David Letterman. Did no one think of asking Dave? I mean, it's been years since the Uma/Oprah thing, right? And his writers are WGA-approved.

Actually, it wasn't the writers who were missed. I say this with love, but the "writing" of the Globes has never been its strong point. What was missing, of course, was the people, preferably the actual nominees. The ones who scream and cry, or look cool and nonchalant, the ones who make bad jokes and thank their agents and the people at Warner Bros.

Personally, and I take this vow publicly, I will never again underestimate the narrative importance of even a really lame acceptance speech. Not to mention all those frozen smiles of the non-winners. What do we watch these shows for, after all? George Clooney, the occasional racy or graceful speech, the dresses, and the looks on the faces of the people who just lost.

I can only say once again: Thank heaven for the Nikki Blonsky video.


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