By STEVEN ZEITCHIK
NBC and the HFPA settled on a plan today to air the Golden Globes without, well, actually airing the Golden Globes.
The network said it will broadcast several hours of coverage beginning at 4 p.m. PST that encompasses a red carpet and one-hour news conference at the Beverly Hilton.
In short, the show will go on — but without the sizzle. ...
But industry veterans immediately began scratching their heads, suggesting that the plan creates more confusion around an already cloudy picture.
The decision comes after days of wrangling in which the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. pushed hard for NBC to drop plans to televise the proceedings, which presumably would have prompted the guilds to lift the picket and allow stars to attend. The HFPA only partly concealed its frustration at the circumstances.
‘‘We are all very disappointed that our traditional awards ceremony will not take place this year and that millions of viewers worldwide will be deprived of seeing many of their favorite stars celebrating 2007’s outstanding achievements in motion pictures and television,’’ HFPA president Jorge Camara said. ‘‘We take some comfort, however, in knowing that this year’s Golden Globe Award recipients will be announced on the date originally scheduled.’’ With the decision, the HFPA will apparently forgo the traditional network license fee, which is in the $5 million range.
NBC, which had for weeks made firm pronouncements about its intention to go on with the traditional three-hour gala awards show, stuck to its guns after earlier reports that it would scrap the Globes entirely and air something else Sunday.
The decision to cover the awards using an untested format despite calls from the HFPA not to broadcast the show can be seen as a continuation of the company’s — and NBC Uni president and CEO Jeff Zucker’s — hard line on the strike. The company earlier was one of several networks to order its late-night stars back to work.
According to the rather elaborate blueprint laid out Monday, the news conference, during which the HFPA will announce winners in 25 categories, will air at 6 p.m. PST and be followed by party coverage that would also be aired on NBC. Nominees would be attending the parties while the news conference was taking place and, if they won an award, could opt to appear on camera from the parties.
Word came late today, however, that the studios and networks are canceling their post-Globes parties, throwing into doubt any telecasts after the news conference as well as appearances from stars in general.
The modified Globes might also include a special broadcast of NBC’s ‘‘Dateline’’ and a clips show from Dick Clark Prods., which usually produces the live event, though insiders said that it was far from certain that either of those shows would air. If they are telecast, both would precede the news conference.
The new plan is an attempt to satisfy the concerns of the WGA and SAG while still providing enough live programming that NBC could garner viewers and advertisers. (NBC typically draws as many as 20 million total viewers to the Globes telecast.) NBC’s scaled-back version essentially will attempt to avoid triggering pickets.
The hourlong news conference, for example, would be covered by NBC News, which uses writers from a non-WGA guild. And a clip show from Dick Clark Prods. would circumvent the problem of a live show from a struck company.
But it was unclear whether the new plan would mollify the guilds, which seemed unmoved by it and said they see the announcement as little more than a Globes ceremony without the formal dinner.
‘‘They are trying to do an awards show under the guise of a news event,’’ said Jeff Hermanson, a WGA West assistant exec director. ‘‘If they do an awards show, no matter what they call it, it will be picketed.’’
A SAG spokeswoman sounded a similar note. ‘‘The WGA has informed us that if there is a telecast, there will be a picket line, and we are still hopeful that our members won’t cross a picket line.’’
The guild comments seems poised to open up a debate about the meaning of a ‘‘Globes telecast’’; sources say an earlier communication between the WGA and the HFPA suggested there would be no picket of a news conference as long as it didn’t serve as a Trojan horse for a Globes show.
Several publicists representing A-list stars today continued to maintain the line that they would await word about a picket before advising their clients. But even if there is no picket line, the Globes could have a hard time getting big names in the room.
One studio publicist noted that ‘‘Unless I know my guy is winning, I’m not sending stars in to sit on a folding chair just to hear someone else’s name read out at a press conference.’’
Stan Rosenfield, who reps a number of stars including Globe nominee George Clooney, said that he hadn’t had time to study the plan but suggested that a scaled-back show will lead to scaled-back attendance.
The Hollywood Reporter