THE Golden Globes telecast goes to great lengths to present itself as a boozy Hollywood love-in, a virtual dinner party with the stars (that's Harrison Ford! And he has a drink!), but it's just a fiction.
This is a sales meeting, really -- a grand and glamorous one, such as Enron never threw. Oscar buffs get a preview of the early best actor/actress/picture favorites and a chance to see who's going to cry again several weeks from now.
But the most significant thing about the Globes this year was that NBC moved them to Monday night, not to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. but so the broadcast wouldn't have to compete with ABC's Sunday night duo of "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy."
Because that's where we are -- in an era of much-ness, too many movies and not enough audience, too many networks and not enough viewers, too many awards and not enough stars -- so that even the hallowed tradition of the Globes as TV spectacle (that's Reese Witherspoon! And she's using a fork!) is no longer a guarantor of ratings.
Sitting through the ceremony this year, all three hours of them (to be repurposed on NBC-Universal cable network Bravo later this week as a piece of much-ness), you could feel the weight of all that content to be viewed, all that parking to be validated, if you were going to schlep to see not only "The Constant Gardener" but also "Capote" and "Syriana" and "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and go wherever you have to go to see "Weeds."
Actually, you don't have to go anywhere -- it's on Showtime; its representatives are standing by now.
"Weeds" is about a suburban widow and mother who deals pot to her cul-de-sac. It's an example of how television has gotten more sophisticated as its viewership has fragmented into niches, into everybody watching something, as long as it fits their taste and lifestyle.
And yet, despite the hard evidence to the contrary, TV shows and movies still maintain the symbol of the shared experience; it's partly what award shows are for, to honor what we talk about. Except that that equation doesn't so much exist anymore.
So you could be forgiven for feeling a sense of disconnect as Felicity Huffman held it together as she accepted the statuette for best actress, drama, for "Transamerica," a movie a lot of people haven't seen, which makes it like "Weeds," for which Mary Louise-Parker held it together in accepting the trophy for best actress in a comedy series, beating back all four of the "Desperate Housewives."
And yet give these Golden Globes credit -- the show, as it turned out, was both a marvel of meaningless and an occasion to honor a great film, Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain."
"This has been an amazing year for American cinema," Lee said, accepting the award for best director, and perhaps he's right. But if so it's an amazing year for American cinema that has to compete with downloadable iPod content and Internet porn and the first four seasons of "24" on DVD and whatever I have sitting in my TiVo from three weeks ago.
E!'s preshow coverage, meanwhile, was mostly notable for red carpet correspondent Isaac Mizrahi's unabashed investigation into whether each actress he corralled was wearing underwear. Scarlett Johansson didn't blink, Eva Longoria blanched. Mizrahi's persistence went from obnoxious to endearing until there were no more starlets left to ask.
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Shining on a Golden night
Motion picture (drama)
Focus Features/River Road Entertainment; Focus Features
(musical or comedy)
"Walk the Line," 20th Century Fox; 20th Century Fox
Actress (musical or comedy)
"Walk the Line"
Actor (musical or comedy)
"Walk the Line"
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To see a photo gallery, fashion critique and notebook items about the after-parties, go to www.theenvelope.com.