The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., notes one television producer, was always considered five to 10 years behind the times. Note its selection of Pia Zadora as "new star of the year" in 1981. But, if Saturday evening's 47th annual Golden Globe Awards was any indication, the group has become almost cutting edge. Performances by Wayne Newton and Suzanne Somers notwithstanding, a tone of "relevance" and social activism dominated the night.
Vietnam was very much in the forefront. Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July" swept four of the five categories in which it was nominated including motion picture (drama), director, screenplay and actor (Tom Cruise)--boding well for similar victories in March's Academy Awards ceremonies. (Eight of the last Golden Globe best picture winners have gone on to repeat during the Oscars.) Though its star Dana Delaney was edged out by Angela Lansbury ("Murder, She Wrote") in the TV acting category, "China Beach"--which focuses on the women in the Vietnamese conflict--was named best dramatic TV series.
Civil rights was also in the spotlight. "Driving Miss Daisy," the story of an elderly Jewish woman and her black chauffeur, walked off with the best motion picture (musical or comedy) award and the film's co-stars, Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, won the top honors in their respective categories. Denzel Washington, who played a member of the first black infantry regiment in the Civil War epic "Glory," was selected as the best supporting actor in a dramatic motion picture.
Ted Danson, designated best actor in a TV series (musical or comedy) for his performance in "Cheers," called for people to get off their couches and "hit the streets . . . to get out there and do something," while perennial favorite Audrey Hepburn, recipient of the evening's Cecil B. DeMille Award and a UNICEF activist, hailed the media ("radio, newspapers, films, TV--all of it") for helping to create a "global compassion which to so many has become the lifeline and, in fact, saved millions of lives."
The evening, broadcast by the Turner Broadcasting System, was as presenter James Woods described it, one of those "nice, silly perks" of the business. A rare opportunity for TV and film folk to co-mingle at what felt more like a sprawling family cocktail party than a stiff, career-impacting awards ceremony. Celebrities ranging from Gregory Peck to Tom Selleck made appearances. The festivities were relaxed and upbeat. One of the evenings biggest laughs occurred when Diane English, producer of "Murphy Brown"--winner of the award for best TV series (musical or comedy)--dangled one of the dried-out squabs from the dinner salad and asked if anyone wanted hers. Another when Steve Martin and Billy Crystal--losers to Morgan Freeman in the movie actor category--startled hosts Sam Elliott and Cybill Shepard by running on stage demanding to know who came in second.
Director Oliver Stone was asked backstage to compare this win with that of his first Vietnam film "Platoon." "Like getting a second daughter married off," he said with a weary smile.
Cruise, noting that Ron Kovic, the disabled veteran on whom "Born" was based, had been wounded 22 years ago to the day, expressed hope that "after tonight Jan. 20 will carry with it a better memory" for him.
Kovic sounded patently political with allusions to a "new America" and John F. Kennedy. He refused to confirm reports that he's running for Congress in Orange County but declared in the euphoria of the moment: "If I do decide to run, I will win."
If outsiders were tempted to read into the fact that minority artists scored big, the actors themselves did not. Asked how she interpreted the fact that her co-star Freeman and Washington won major awards, Jessica Tandy said: "They're both damn good actors . . . that's all." Washington, too, cautioned against excessive optimism. "I never regard anything as monumental," he said. "It's all evolution. This business is predicated on fear and spending someone's money. You ask them to give you $20 million in the hope you can bring them back $60 million. We're moving in the right direction, but it's still very tough."
The list of winners:
Drama: "Born on the Fourth of July."
Musical or comedy: "Driving Miss Daisy."
Director: Oliver Stone, "Born on the Fourth of July."
Actor, drama: Tom Cruise, "Born on the Fourth of July."
Actress, drama: Michelle Pfeiffer, "The Fabulous Baker Boys."
Actor, musical or comedy: Morgan Freeman, "Driving Miss Daisy."
Actress, musical or comedy: Jessica Tandy, "Driving Miss Daisy."
Supporting actor, drama: Denzel Washington, "Glory."
Supporting actress, drama: Julia Roberts, "Steel Magnolias."
Screenplay: Oliver Stone and Ron Kovic, "Born on the Fourth of July."
Foreign film: "Cinema Paradiso," Italy.
Original score: Alan Menken, "The Little Mermaid."
Original song: Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, "Under the Sea." "The Little Mermaid."
Series, musical or comedy: "Murphy Brown."
Actor, series, musical or comedy: Ted Danson.
Actress, series, musical or comedy: Jamie Lee Curtis.
Actor, supporting role: Dean Stockwell, "Quantum Leap."
Actress, supporting role: Amy Madigan, "Roe vs. Wade."
Series, drama: "China Beach."
Actor, series, drama: Ken Wahl, "Wiseguy."
Actress, series, drama: Angela Lansbury, "Murder, She Wrote."
Miniseries or TV movie: "Lonesome Dove."
Actor, miniseries or TV movie: Robert Duvall, "Lonesome Dove."
Actress, miniseries or TV movie: Christine Lahti, "No Place Like Home."