By FRAZIER MOORE
The Golden Globes awards telecast is usually a rollicking, star-studded party. This year's was more like a laundry list.
Even so, not all live coverage was the same. Viewers who mistakenly watched NBC were fed a package of clutter and commercials padding out the program to a full hour — a blink of an eye by awards-show standards, but twice its necessary length.
By contrast, viewers tuned to the generic announcements carried by networks including CNN, E! and the TV Guide channel knew all the winners in half the time. And they were spared NBC's blabby co-hosts, Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell of "Access Hollywood," as well as useless "analysis" by Entertainment Weekly writer Dave Karger. NBC stooped to vamping and artificial suspense, at the expense of giving its viewers what they had come for.
On it went, until, at 9:58 p.m. Eastern, Karger joined Bush and O'Dell at their podium.
"The big moment has arrived," O'Dell chirped. It was time to find out the Best Dramatic Film.
"Who should win?" Bush asked Karger.
"It's between 'Atonement' and 'No Country [for Old Men]' at this point," said Karger, sticking his neck out.
As NBC's viewers were informed a moment later — and everyone who wasn't watching NBC had known for a half-hour — "Atonement" took the prize.
Thanks loads. And with that, NBC's "Winners' Special" signed off.
If the winners of the Globes really mattered — a point that's open to debate — NBC was guilty of sitting on the news while other networks dutifully rushed it out to their viewers.
NBC did its audience a disservice, all the more so after having established itself as the signature network of the Golden Globes.
NBC, of course, originally had planned to air the three-hour Globes extravaganza. In recent years a huge ratings draw, that ceremony fell prey to the Hollywood writers strike, and to a promised boycott by nominees and other glitterati refusing to cross the Writers Guild picket lines.
Then NBC cooked up a plan for its news division to make an end run around the strike by airing the Golden Globes as a prime-time, exclusive "news" special. That idea met with resistance, too. (Would an NBC News-produced special have given the same leisurely treatment to handling the coverage, had it been theirs alone?) The unveiling of the winners was opened to all media outlets.
NBC still wasn't giving up on cashing in on the Golden Globes, however it could. It patched together a two-hour Globes preview as a two-hour edition of NBC News' endlessly adaptable "Dateline NBC."
Titled "Going for Gold," this entertainment infomercial was hosted by "Today" anchor Matt Lauer, who began by noting "the stars will not be taking to the red carpet tonight," even as his interviews-and-clips program offered "a golden opportunity to meet some of the nominees."
"Atonement" star James McAvoy, Kyra Sedgwick of TNT's "The Closer" and nearly a dozen other nominees — they each scored a breezy mini-profile while their projects were vigorously hyped.
Then came the Main Event, such as it was. For viewers who loved the glamour and revelry of past Globes awards shows, Sunday's, at best, was a consolation prize. Those who watched on NBC got the booby prize.