My friend and colleague Chloe Melas has an idea.
During a recent chat on Brian Stelter’s “Reliable Sources” podcast she and I chatted with Stelter and our colleague Frank Pallotta about awards season wrapping up and the future of Hollywood.
“I actually suggested to Lisa…why don’t we do the Oscars every two years?,” Chloe said. “We don’t have the Olympics every year.”
That might sound tongue-in-cheek, but what Chloe is getting at is the malaise which has helped hasten the ratings free fall for awards shows.
As with many things, the pandemic has seemingly just sped up the timeline for many things that have felt inevitable, including people moving away from interest in Hollywood celebrating itself.
In an Opinion piece for CNN, critic Gene Seymour asks “Do we even need the Golden Globes?”
“I’ve been wondering for at least half my life how necessary they are to movies and television, given the many critics’ awards that have more provocatively set an advance agenda for the Oscars,” he writes. “The question is additionally complicated by the fact that this year, as co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler noted in their opening monologue, nobody is altogether sure what the difference is between a movie made for television and a movie shown on television but was meant to be shown in theaters that are mostly closed to the public because of the pandemic.”
I think much of it lies in something I said during the podcast: “Hollywood is going to have to change because we’ve changed.”
Your move Hollywood.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association doesn’t want you to think it’s just resting on its laurels in the midst of all this turmoil.
HFPA as it is known released a statement on its site.
“Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly – and as thoughtfully – as possible remains the top priority for our organization,” the statement read. “We invite our partners in the industry to the table to work with us on the systemic reform that is long overdue, both in our organization as well as within the industry at large.”
What follows is a calendar of what the organization is calling “reform milestones” including a plan to “Revise and approve new Code of conduct in consultation with Publicists and studios” and having a “New membership process” which “opens per new criteria enacted in amended and restated Bylaws.”
Following a recent report from the Los Angeles Times, some in HFPA leadership had called for significant changes to occur.
Now it appears that plan is all the more imperative in the wake of NBC pulling out of airing next year’s ceremony.
There’s no kind way to say this: awards show ratings have been in the toilet.
As the pandemic has raged on, the appetite for streaming content has seemed to increase while that for awards shows definitely has not, and Golden Globes were no different.
This year’s ratings plummeted by 63% from last year with 6.9 million people tuning in this year as opposed to 18.4 million last year.
As my colleague Brian Lowry pointed out (and was highlighted in my other colleague Brian Stelter’s stellar newsletter) such declines have real life application.
“While the decline of a few self-congratulatory Hollywood galas may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, especially during a pandemic, these shows employ thousands of workers, and the groups that put them on use the profits to fund programs for the arts,” Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw wrote. “TV networks pay tens of millions of dollars for the rights to broadcast individual awards shows, because they are part of an exclusive club: programming that needs to be seen live. In any given year, the Oscars and Grammys are among the only shows that can compete with live sports for viewers.”
So having an awards show be in the crosshairs to the point that Tom Cruise gave his awards back may not bode well for awards shows in general. Like the ratings, the timing is pretty bad.
It’s not all been bad for the Globes.
They’ve had some moments that have resonated with viewers.
In 1987, deaf actress Marlee Matlin won the best actress award for her portrayal as a deaf student in the film “Children of a Lesser God.”
Matlin took to the stage with her interpreter and joked “I’m not much of a speaker, he is.”
Activists for the hearing impaired and others cheered
Ving Rhames won best actor in 1998 for his portrayal of real life flamboyant promoter Don King in HBO’s “Don King: Only in America” (HBO is owned by CNN’s parent company).
During his tearful acceptance speech, Rhames asked fellow nominee and legendary actor Jack Lemmon on stage and turned the award over to him for the latter’s powerhouse performance in “12 Angry Men.”
“I knew that Don King was a character, but I didn’t know you were crazy,” Lemmon joked.
The moment brought others to tears as well.
In 2017 esteemed actor Meryl Streep gave a six minute address while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award in which she denounced former President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric and criticized him for mocking a disabled reporter.
“This instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in the public … by someone powerful, it filters down into everyone’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same,” Streep said. “When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
Her remarks were met with approval both by those in the audience and many on social media.
The following year Oprah Winfrey received the same award and gave a rousing speech in support of the #MeToo movement which shined a light on those in both Hollywood and other industries who used their positions of power to victimize the less powerful.
“I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights. So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again,” she said.
The Golden Globes are being called out for its seeming lack of diversity, but they are far from the only ones to face such complaints.
#OscarsSoWhite began in 2015 after Twitter user April Reign used it to lament the lack of diversity at the Academy Awards.
That began a conversation during the next few years that has continued to this day about the need for more diverse faces both in front of and behind the camera.
In 2017 Reign told CNN it wasn’t just a Back and White issue.
“#OscarsSoWhite is about all races and genders and sexual orientations,” she said. “In 2017, why haven’t we had an LGBT rom-com? We have the phenomenal Sir Patrick Stewart playing a disabled superhero in ‘X Men,’ but why haven’t we had a disabled actor or actress playing a superhero?”
A check of social media every year when the nominations are announced shows that people have definite feelings about whether the awards shows —and Hollywood by extension — is reflective of its audience.
Awards season is super busy for us entertainment journalists (think multiple Super Bowls without the snacks that come along with that big game) and while there are plenty, the big three when it comes to acting are the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the granddaddy if them all, the Academy Awards a.k.a. the Oscars.
But how are they different?
Glad you asked.
The Oscars: The oldest having begun in 1929, this award celebrates the best in film achievement which includes everything from acting to directing to best sound editing.
The statues are awarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, with the winners chosen by the voting members of the Academy. That’s not just anyone, by the way, membership to the Academy is by invitation only.
It’s usually the final awards show of the season.
The Golden Globe Awards: They began in 1944, and these awards go to the best in television and domestic and international film as determined by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).
Not long after its founding, the awards ceremony made some changes.
“In 1951 the association decided to divide the best film, actor and actress nominees into two categories — drama, and musical or comedy — so that no genre would be slighted,” according to its site. “In 1952, the HFPA created the Cecil B. deMille Award to recognize ‘outstanding contribution to the entertainment field.’ The award’s first recipient was deMille himself.”
There are less than 100 members of HFPA and they are the voting body for the awards.
The Screen Actors Guild Awards: The SAG Awards as they are commonly known are presented by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists shorthanded SAG-AFTRA.
According to its site the union “represents approximately 160,000 performers and media professionals across 25 locals in the United States who work in film and digital motion pictures, television programs, commercials, video games, corporate/educational and non-broadcast productions, new media, television and radio news outlets, as well as major label recording artists.”
Awards are voted on by the union membership and recognizes excellence in film and prime time television. The ceremony was founded in 1952, but the show didn’t become a thing until it started airing in 1995.
It is currently aired on TNT and TBS which is owned by CNN’s parent company.
The Golden Globes will not be airing on NBC next year, temporarily ending a decades-long relationship between the network and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – the nonprofit responsible for the awards.
The network announced that it would not carry the show in 2022 after controversy surrounding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s lack of diversity as well as ethical questions related to financial benefits given to some members, such as a hotel stay in connection with an “Emily in Paris” junket.
Those revelations, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, have prompted several major outlets, including Netflix and WarnerMedia, CNN’s parent company, to announce that they would not participate in any Globes-related events until the issues had been adequately addressed.
“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right. As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes,” NBC said in a statement on Monday.
The network added that assuming the organization “executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”
The Times reporting found that the group has no Black members, and raised questions about benefits received by some members stemming from the millions that NBC pays for the right to televise the event, which has traditionally been one of the highest rated in the awards calendar.
This year, however, ratings have plummeted for award shows across the board, including the Globes, due to a confluence of factors, foremost among them the coronavirus pandemic. The show, which was hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, was watched by 6.9 million, the lowest rating since the program moved to NBC in the 1990s.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) released a statement on its website pledging to make changes as it faces growing pressure.
“Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly – and as thoughtfully – as possible remains the top priority for our organization. We invite our partners in the industry to the table to work with us on the systemic reform that is long overdue, both in our organization as well as within the industry at large.”
The organization outlined a timeline for reforms that “demonstrates our commitment to achieving these goals with extreme urgency.”
You can see the full timeline here.
Tom Cruise has returned his Golden Globe Awards to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a source close to the actor told CNN on Monday.
Cruise won the best actor Globes for his performances in “Jerry Maguire” in 1997 and “Born on the Fourth of July” in 1990, and the best supporting actor award for “Magnolia” in 2000.
The move comes amid growing controversy surrounding the HFPA — the organization behind the Globes — for its lack of diversity, specifically no Black members, and ethical questions related to financial benefits to some of its 87 members brought to light in a February investigation by the Los Angeles Times.
NBC announced Monday that it would not broadcast the show in 2022.
“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right. As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes,” NBC told CNN Business.
Prior to NBC’s announcement, Scarlett Johansson issued a statement calling for the entertainment community to take a step back from participating in events sponsored by the HFPA.
“As an actor promoting a film, one is expected to participate in awards season by attending press conferences as well as awards shows,” she said in a statement to Variety and confirmed by CNN. “In the past, this has often meant facing sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on sexual harassment. It is the exact reason why I, for many years, refused to participate in their conferences. The HFPA is an organization that was legitimized by the likes of Harvey Weinstein to amass momentum for Academy recognition, and the industry followed suit. Unless there is necessary fundamental reform within the organization, I believe it is time that we take a step back from the HFPA and focus on the importance and strength of unity within our unions and the industry as a whole.”