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The Golden Globes Are Putting on a Show, and Hollywood Can’t Figure Out Why

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association seems determined to return to the Beverly Hilton in the worst way, so that’s exactly what it’s doing with its no-stars, nontelevised ceremony

AWARDS BEAT

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2022 Golden Globe Awards.

No red carpet. No stars. No acceptance speeches. No press. No TV broadcast. No livestream.

No point?

That’s a pertinent question as the Hollywood Foreign Press prepares to do something all by itself on Sunday evening at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, which in a normal year would have been filled with stars and execs and publicists and press and partygoers, and would have been watched by at least several million viewers on NBC.

But this is far from a normal year for the HFPA, which lost its 2022 television broadcast (for this year, anyway) as it tries to reform an organization finally brought down by its lack of diversity and years of ethical lapses.

And it’s far from a normal year for the rest of Hollywood, too, as the recent surge in the Omicron variant of COVID-19 caused one January event after another to pull the plug: The Palm Springs Film Awards and Film Festival, the AFI luncheon, the BAFTA tea party, the Critics Choice Awards, the Academy’s Governors Awards, the Sundance Film Festival, the Grammys, and on and on. Essentially, every awards-season event until the end of January is now virtual, canceled or on hold – except the Golden Globes, which steadfastly stuck to its presentation of an awards show that nobody can attend even if they want to, and that nobody can watch from home.

In my conversations with people in the awards game this week, I keep hearing the same question: “Why the hell are they doing this?”

In a way, the pandemic could have provided the ideal cover for the HFPA, allowing the organization to cancel any kind of ceremony that might spotlight the cold shoulder it’s currently receiving from Hollywood. But the beleaguered group was determined to return to the Beverly Hilton, where it’s enjoyed being the one-night-only center of Hollywood for years.

I guess you could say that they were determined to return to the Hilton in the worst way, so that’s exactly what they’re doing.

TheWrap has been very critical of the HFPA in the past, but I’ve argued that the organization should give out Golden Globes this year – not in a glitzy show, but quietly, in a way that demonstrates that it still wants to honor the top achievements in film and television.

(It might be too much to ask that the awards demonstrate that the voters know how to recognize the best achievements, but it would be helpful if they could do that, too. And this year’s nominations were essentially respectable.)  

The problem is, putting on a show when everybody around you in canceling their shows feels like ego rather than common sense — or maybe defiance in the face of an industry that chose to play ball with them for years and is now acting offended. And doing it in a way that nobody outside their own organization can attend or watch just turns the whole thing into a sad and defiant private party.

According to the press release announcing this version of the show, the ceremony will talk about many of the charitable grants that the HFPA makes and the work they’re now doing with the NAACP. That same release pointed out that the organization has donated the formidable sum of $50 million over the past 25 years, though it neglected to point out that NBC has been paying $60 million a year for the broadcast rights, half of which went to the HFPA and the other half to Dick Clark Productions (now rebranded MRC Live and Alternative). Wrap Editor Sharon Waxman has pointed out the self-interested role that MRC owner Todd Boehly – and current CEO of the HFPA – has in getting this show back on the air.

So yes, they give money to charity and they want to show that. But if they’re giving out that money and talking about that good work during a ceremony that nobody but their own members who happen to be in the room can watch, who are they trying to impress? Is this just one last party for themselves, or part of a real push for redemption?

And yes, the press release that they’ll send out on Sunday listing the winners for anybody who hasn’t been following on Twitter will no doubt talk more about their largesse – but the news will be the winners, if anybody is paying attention. (Yeah, TheWrap will run the winners’ list.)

The question is whether the HFPA is doing anything to help its rehabilitation by insisting on an in-person show. Granted, the group’s interim CEO, hedge fund billionaire Todd Boehly, has the financial incentive and the connections to push for an all-is-forgiven reception from the industry; he has an ownership stake in the Beverly Hilton and in MRC, which has a publishing joint venture with Penske Media that operates The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and Deadline. But Sunday night’s unseen ceremony hardly seems to be a way to move the needle.

Back on Dec. 13, when the Globes announced their nominations, I asked in a headline, “If an awards show announces nominations but nobody cares, have they really voted?”  But now it’s probably more accurate to ask, If an awards show falls in the woods (or in the Beverly Hilton) and nobody is listening, has it really made a sound?

The answer, in this case, might be yes – and the sound could be either a resounding crash or a dull thud.