Critic's Notebook

Golden Globes 2015: The Globes' rise in stature? Blame TV

Mary McNamara
Contact ReporterLos Angeles Times Television Critic
The Golden Globes honor film and TV, are quirky and pick TV-centric hosts like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

As anyone even remotely connected with it will tell you, awards season is a pain, an annual collective descent into a frenzied war of opposing forces.

Every year, the studios, the stars and the media sagely "reconsider" the wisdom and meaning of multimillion-dollar campaigns for a few golden statues, even as every year, those same studios, stars and media do everything but tap dance naked on the back of flying elephants to create and cover those campaigns.

The only people who do not engage in this clash of the "It's gotten out of hand! / Wait, let's make it bigger!" pretense are the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the people behind the Golden Globes. For years, they unashamedly gate-crashed awards season. And now they are one of its main hosts.

GOLDEN GLOBES 2015: Top nominees | List | Snubs/Surprises | Reactions | Announcement | Full coverage

And they did it, in large part, by understanding the importance of television.

It is no accident that the significance of the Globes grew as television's did. It is the only major awards show that honors both film and television, which means it appeals to cinephiles and "Grey's Anatomy" fans alike, as well as mirroring the growing intermarriage between the two.

The Hollywood Foreign Press is also far less predictable than voters in either the television or film academy, which means that viewers are more likely to see their offbeat choices reflected at the Globes than either the Oscars or the Emmys.

And the Globes is not an in-house production. Unlike the Oscars, the Emmys or even the Tonys, it is not put on by the same body of people as its awards, so it is not hampered by the touchiness of the film academy, the clubbiness of TV or the requirements of the theater — no one has to sing and dance at the Golden Globes, for which we are all grateful.

The telecast also benefited from very low expectations — long considered a fun but professionally insignificant booze fest, the Globes did not carry the weight of iconic hosts, famous tributes or anything much at all. So, really, there was nowhere to go but up.

Now, of course, that has changed. After experimenting with the scalding wit of Ricky Gervais, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. invited Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to host.

More important, when the duo proved an enormous hit, they were asked to sign for two additional years, proving that the Hollywood Foreign Press seemed to understand what the academies did not: that awards telecasts are television shows, so you should hire people who know how to make good television, then hang on to them for as long as you can.

The Globes may not get the ratings of the Oscars, but with almost 20 million viewers last year, it beat the Emmys. Which means, of course, that the telecast is now viewed with higher expectations and much more scrutiny.

Will Fey and Poehler seem as fresh and funny the third time around? Will the choices become more lockstep as they are granted more significance, the tone a bit more careful now that so many people are watching?

In other words, can the show survive its own success?

mary.mcnamara@latimes.com

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