Was that the last 20th Century Fox party?
That was the whispered but unavoidable question at Sunday’s Golden Globes after the telecast dissolved into almost a dozen afterparties at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The Skylight Ballroom atop the building hosted winners and nominees from Fox’s film studio, broadcast network and cable entity FX.
It was a starry and indulgent display of the work the company did this year: Hugh Jackman blowing kisses to producer Amy Pascal, Penelope Cruz posting up with activist Janet Mock, Naomi Campbell and Billie Jean King fighting their way through a throng of Guillermo del Toro fans just to get to the bar.
This is business as usual at industry affairs, but it felt different last night — it felt like a last hurrah thanks to Disney’s recent move to acquire the film and TV content engines from Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
TheWrap previously reported on widespread anxiety and uncertainty on the West Los Angeles Fox lot, as redundancies could eliminate thousands of jobs by the time the Disney transition is complete. With that kind of inevitability, how do you cut loose and toast the good times?
Winning helps. Fox Searchlight’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” swept with Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Actress for Frances McDormand, Best Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell and Best Screenplay for Martin McDonaugh.
Del Toro won Best Director for “The Shape of Water.” Benj Pasek and Justin Paul took Best Original Song “This Is Me,” from “The Greatest Showman.” Ewan McGregor took Best Actor in a Limited Series for FX’s “Fargo.”
Even the seating arrangements at the party were performative of what Fox has to offer, a smattering of collective taste, smart spending and bold choices. It represented the culture that stands to be lost when swallowed whole by Disney.
Like watching Ryan Murphy hold court with the A-listers who are drawn to him and seduced onto the small screen, such as Penelope Cruz who debuts as his Donatella Versace next week when “American Crime Story” returns.
Fox Television Group CEO Dana Walden was attached to Murphy’s hip, and not for nothing. The super producer’s contract is up in June and he could go anywhere for what would likely be a huge payday. Losing him would be potentially devastating to whatever Fox TV looks like in the coming years.
Then there’s Stacey Snider, who only just started showing us her game as the CEO of 20th Century Fox Film. She succeeded Jim Gianopulos in 2016 in step with the triumphant “Deadpool,” reupped Production President Emma Watts with a new contract and started picking her movies before the Disney deal steamrolled momentum.
Snider told me she was proud of Fox Searchlight and “Showman,” and hoped that all her films including Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” would continue to be a part of the conversation through Oscars.
I complimented her on cancelling a trip to Washington D.C. for the east coast premiere of “The Post,” instead staying with her staff in L.A. to comfort them after the Disney news broke — and embolden them to keep operating with swagger while they still could.
“It’s because I love the people I work with,” she said simply.
Then she bid me goodbye and rejoined her colleagues. Their job last night was to celebrate, even if it’s something like the last time.