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Good Riddance, Globes; Hello Oscars!

The Golden Globes are over, and now the real fun begins. The members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce their nominees next Thursday, and odds are things will shape up a little differently.

What should happen: the Oscars will now address themselves to the serious business of bestowing awards to those who they feel deserve it. There are over 5,000 Oscar voters versus the 80 so members of the so called Hollywood Foreign Press.

And even if 10 percent of the Academy voters let their dogs, maids, or children fill out ballots, that’s still a lot of direct, unmanipulated votes.

My guess: the Academy, seeing that Mickey Rourke’s oddities have been acknowledged by the equally odd HFPA, moves toward either Sean Penn for “Milk” or toward an career achievement actor’s award for Clint Eastwood’s spectacular work in “Gran Torino.”

The Academy will also likely be satisfied that Kate Winslet got two scoops at the Globes, leaving them on a clear path to Meryl Streep for “Doubt” or Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married.” Hathaway may have also been unfairly punished by the Globes’ mismanagement of its website, and the Academy could come to her rescue.

What should prevail from the Globes as well as from the much more credible Critics Choice Awards: Danny Boyle and his stupendous “Slumdog Millionaire.” Everyone who sees it, loves it. I’ve listened to fans dissect “Benjamin Button,” “Doubt,” “Frost/Nixon,” and ‘Milk,” for various reasons. But when “Slumdog” is mentioned, all I’ve ever heard is, “I loved it!”

Attention Bill Condon, director of this year’s Oscar broadcast: stage the musical number from “Slumdog” in first hour, get the audience up to join in, so when the movie wins later, you can have lots of stars singing “Jaiho.” It’s a crowd pleaser.

But what of the Globes, which are chosen by alleged journalists? The Hollywood Foreign Press is the scourge of the ‘real’ entertainment press. I’m told the group’s fee from NBC is supposed to go up in the next year, which means they will be collecting closer to $8 million tax free to license their name and supply movie stars for the show. NBC doesn’t care who wins or what the backstage antics are as long as Brad, Angelina and Tom Cruise are at the front tables.

But it is the backstage stuff that is completely out of whack with reality, and why CBS’s Les Moonves should seriously consider moving the much more legit Critics Choice Awards from VH-1 to CBS proper. The Critics Choice, occurring four days earlier, had the same stars plus Sean Penn—who refused to attend to the Globes because “Milk” was snubbed—and Clint Eastwood, whose sublime “Gran Torino” the HFPA apparently didn’t understand.

The Critics Choice Awards—which this reporter votes in—was also a stress free event. Voting is closely monitored, and group chief Joey Berlin doesn’t discriminate or micromanage. There are also no zillion dollar gift bags or jeroboams of Champagne on the dinner tables. The Globes are so excessive in their hubris that the whole event seemed very much like it was making the same gesture to the American public that director Darren Aronofsky gave to Mickey Rourke during the show.

And the results proved it: The 2009 Golden Globes scored very low ratings. The public likely sniffed a rat.

My own personal favorite moment: the HFPA’s vice president, Mike Goodridge, a Brit who runs the little known Screen International magazine, whining to me that I ‘should know’ no journalists were allowed in the lobby of the Beverly Hilton Hotel while guests came off the red carpet. What that said of him, as a journalist, remains a mystery.

Meanwhile, legitimate photographers complained as usual about their credentials being pulled so that the Globes could profit from the sales of red carpet pictures. It’s quite a scam. The Globes alleged photographer in chief, Munawar Hosain, is never seen with a camera, but he’s the gate keeper. Every year, dozens of regular outlets like People magazine are turned away while the little known Zuma Press gets total access. Zuma has such a monopoly on the Golden Globes red carpet that they’ve even picked up a second web address for their site—redcarpetpictures.com. It’s hilarious—unless you’re a real photographer trying to get your job done.

The Globes are a moneymaker for the HFPA, though. In addition to the NBC fee and the picture and video clip resale, the group also charges $600 a ticket to those who attend the show. This is in sharp contrast to the Academy Awards, whose tickets are free. The only other group that charges a similar amount to attend its questionable celebrity star-sighting is the equally unprofessional National Board of Review, sort of the HFPA’s east coast equivalent (except without the national broadcast).

While the National Board of Review is composed totally of lay people with few credentials other than “a love of movies,” the HFPA has a few members who actually file stories and reviews over the years. Emanuel Levy, John Hiscock, Patricia Danaher, and Scott Orlin would fall into that group.

But many of the members are like Alexander Nevsky, an unknown Russian actor who goes by the name of his country’s famed hero and would be unlikely to produce clips of his writings from any sanctioned news organization. Most of the HFPA members are hard to trace for their writing, in fact. In most cases, they are the third or fourth string journalists and not the respected critics or interviewers from their countries.

Many of the HFPA members—who are known to fight among themselves in public to get better pictures taken with celebrities—are also quite old. On 92-year-old Howard Lucraft’s website, for example, the former jazz radio host and British soldier recalls volunteering for the RAF’s Central Band in 1939.

And then there are folks like enterprising German Elmar Biebl, who posts pictures of himself with stars on his website and boasts of having interviewed “the visionary STEVE JOBS, the mogul STEVEN SPIELBERG, the Heavyweight Champion VLADIMIR KLITSCHKO, the charismatic CAMERON DIAZ, the enigmatic ROBERT DE NIRO, the indestructable MICK JAGGER, the Governor of California ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER. or sex symbols ANGELINA JOLIE and BRAD PITT.”

Biebl is quite the entrepreneur. Biebl isn’t alone. Belgrade’s Mira Panajotovic is really a book and music publisher who teaches English as a second language. Her website, like Biebl’s, featured pictures of her with stars like Madonna and Mick Jagger.

But Biebl leaves this offer on his website for media outlets around the world: “Let us know if you are interested in one of our recent or upcoming interviews. Just name the name and we will tell you if we can get you the interview.”

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