Golden Globes return Sunday in all their glittery glory

This year's glamour quotient is notable, even for the Globes, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, pictured at the Los Angeles premiere of "Revolutionary Road."
(Matt Sayles / Associated Press)

There are those who say this is not the time for a big Hollywood bash -- the economy is too down, the fears are too high.

Mike Goodridge, the vice president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which puts on the Golden Globe Awards, would not be one of those people.

“I think everyone wants a party at the moment,” Goodridge said this week. “There’s such a gloomy feeling around town. Hopefully this can be a catalyst to have some fun.”

So after essentially skipping the 2008 awards season because of the writers strike -- remember the dismal reading of the names of the winners last year in lieu of a ceremony? -- the Golden Globes are back to reclaim their title of biggest party in town. The awards will be presented Sunday at their usual location, the Beverly Hilton, and broadcast on NBC at 8 p.m.

“The agenda was to make it bigger and better than ever to show the world we’re still here,” Goodridge explained. Hey, the town needs it. “There was a very noticeable change in the awards season last year. When the Golden Globes were taken out, it lost its momentum.”

Entering their 66th year, the Golden Globes have become a place where Hollywood’s elite can mingle among friends. Stars zigzag through the audience, toasting colleagues as they make their way to the stage. Executive producers Barry Adelman (who has been with the show since 1995) and Orly Adelson say this is the best part of the job: watching history unfold live and unscripted.

“You can tell how meaningful the awards have become to the people who receive them,” Adelman said. “It’s always an emotional show.”

Adelson continued: “You don’t know what’s going to happen. Things can change within seconds.”

This spontaneity distinguishes the Golden Globes from other award shows.

In 1998, for example, Christine Lahti was famously trapped in the bathroom when she won the award for outstanding lead actress in “Chicago Hope.” That same year, an emotional Ving Rhames, who won best actor in a TV movie, called legendary actor Jack Lemmon to the stage and gave him the award instead. In 2005, " Law & Order’s” Mariska Hargitay broke down in tears after spotting her father, actor Mickey Hargitay, applauding her best actress award.

This year’s glamour quotient is notable, even for the Globes. There’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, perennial favorites like Meryl Streep and newcomers like the stars of " Slumdog Millionaire.”

Though the threat of another strike -- this time it’s the Screen Actors Guild -- and a crumbling economy made the organization hold its breath, executives say this year’s ceremony comes at just the right time. Producer Adelson notes the Globes conjure up an older Hollywood heritage that’s more refined than today’s flashiness. In her first year producing the show, Adelson hopes that the Golden Globes will provide a respite from the world’s troubles.

“When times are trying, we want to give people good entertainment,” she said. “We’re beginning the year with new promises.”