LOS ANGELES: The body which runs the Golden Globes is like David to the Oscars’ Academy’s Goliath — but it punches above its weight due to its marketing muscle and ability to put on a great show.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) was long dogged by scandals — it lost its TV broadcast deal for several years — but has pulled itself together in spectacular form in recent years.
On Sunday night comic duo Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will present the Globes for a third and final year, in what organizers hope will continue its ratings winning streak.
“I’m not very good at predictions but I can guarantee you 100 percent about Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler — they are tremendous hosts,” Tom Nunan of the UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television told AFP.
“The Golden Globes is traditionally a much more amusing television program,” as opposed to the “stodgy” Oscars, added Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University.
The Globes’ success is all the more remarkable given the relatively small size of the HFPA.
Founded in 1943, the body has only 90 journalist members from 55 countries, compared to the 6,000-plus industry voters of the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), which organizers the Oscars.
Thompson said the Globes, broadcast in 192 countries, is more influential because its ceremony is held while the Academy’s members are still voting.
Some 21 million TV viewers watched last year’s show, less than half of the Oscars’ 44 million, but “any major award that comes first has some influence,” he said.
Nunan highlighted the importance of the Globes for TV shows — unlike the Oscars, the HFPA hands out prizes for the small screen as well as the big screen.
“They are solely responsible for making ‘Veep’ the success it is,” he said, referring to the comedy sitcom set in a US vice-president’s White House office.
But the Globes’ history is punctuated with scandals. “It was not that long ago that the Golden Globes were considered a kind of a joke,” said Nunan.
In 1982 the starlet Pia Zadora raised eyebrows everywhere by winning a newcomer Globe for her role in “Butterfly.”
The prize was widely seen as repaying the generosity of her billionaire husband Meshulam Riklis, who had treated HFPA members to trips to Vegas and hosted lavish evenings in Beverly Hills.
In 1968, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) admonished the NBC network accusing it of misleading viewers about how Globes winners were chosen.
The FCC also alleged that the Globes blackmailed celebrities into turning up at the show — thus boosting ratings and advertizing revenues — by threatening that otherwise their prizes would go to someone else.
After pulling the broadcast from 1968-1974, NBC resumed airing the show, which airs at 5:00 pm Sunday (0100 GMT Monday) live from the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills.
The prizes will be handed out by a galaxy of Hollywood stars, including Jennifer Aniston, Bryan Cranston, Jane Fonda, Harrison Ford, Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow and Matthew McConaughey.