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'Atonement' Wins Best Drama at Golden Globes; Ratings Sink

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Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in a scene from "Atonement." (AP)

The Hollywood writers strike took the glitz, the glamour and roughly two-thirds of the audience from this year's Golden Globe Awards.

NBC's no-frills, one-hour presentation of the winners Sunday night drew a 4.8 rating and 7 share, according to preliminary estimates from the nation's 55 largest metered markets by Nielsen Media Research.

That left NBC fourth in the hour, behind CBS' miniseries "Comanche Moon," ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and the Fox comedies "Family Guy" and "American Dad." For the hour, "Comanche Moon" had almost twice the audience as the NBC awards announcement, Nielsen said Monday.

List: 65th Annual Golden Globes Winners

Photo Essay: Winners

Last year, the Golden Globes ceremony on NBC had a 16.0 rating and 23 audience share, Nielsen said. A ratings point represents 1,128,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 112.8 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

Nielsen didn't immediately have an estimate of how many people actually watched the show on NBC or on other networks that carried the announcement of the winners.

Unlike the months-long writers strike itself, Hollywood's first big awards show was over in a flash, with no key winners, no stars in sight and no real fun for show biz fans.

The Golden Globes honored such films as the tragic romance "Atonement," the crime saga "No Country for Old Men," and the bloody musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street."

Yet no one film gained critical momentum that might set it ahead of the pack for the Academy Awards on Feb. 24, and a compressed Globes show highlighted what a joyless awards season this is for Hollywood.

The two-month-old strike by the Writers Guild of America scuttled the big celebrity bash at the 65th annual Globes, which was replaced by a bizarre and speedy news conference to announce recipients, without any winners around to gush their thanks.

"I wish circumstance would allow me to be there," Cate Blanchett, who won the supporting-actress prize for the Bob Dylan tale "I'm Not There," said in a statement.

With the Globes left in shambles, everyone in Hollywood was left wondering if the same fate might befall the town's big prizes come Oscar night on Feb. 24.

"I just hope this whole thing gets cleared up before the Academy Awards, because it would really be a tragedy if a similar fate transpired for them," said Richard Zanuck, producer of "Sweeney Todd," which won the Globe for best musical or comedy.

"Sweeney Todd" also earned Johnny Depp the Globe for best actor in a musical or comedy for his title role as the bloody barber who slits the throats of customers in his quest for vengeance.

Normally one of Hollywood's brightest nights, with stars carousing into the wee hours, the Globes this year became a mild curiosity as TV entertainment show hosts announced the winners in half an hour.

The guild, on strike since Nov. 5, had planned pickets outside the show if organizers tried to move ahead with their usual televised ceremony. With nominees and other stars refusing to cross picket lines, Globe planners had to scrap their glossy show and hope for better times in 2009.

"Rest assured that next year, the Golden Globe Awards will be back bigger and better than ever," said Jorge Camara, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the prizes.

Along with "Sweeney Todd," three other films received two prizes, with the tragic romance "Atonement" winning the top honor for best drama, plus the Globe for musical score.

The crime saga "No Country for Old Men" came away with the screenplay award for writer-directors Ethan and Joel Coen and the supporting-actor Globe for Javier Bardem, who offers a chilling performance as a killer tracking a fortune in wayward drug money.

The other double winner was "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," which received the directing prize for Julian Schnabel and the foreign-language film honor.

The Globes did virtually nothing to sort out the Oscar picture, with the main prizes up for grabs among "Atonement," "No Country for Old Men" and other critical favorites such as "There Will Be Blood" and "Michael Clayton."

A historical epic set in California's oil-boom days of the early 20th century, "There Will Be Blood" earned Daniel Day-Lewis the Globe for dramatic actor.

Other winners included Marion Cotillard, best musical or comedy actress for the Edith Piaf saga "La Vie En Rose"; Julie Christie, best dramatic actress for the Alzheimer's drama "Away From Her"; Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, best original song for "Guaranteed," from Sean Penn's road drama "Into the Wild"; and the rodent tale "Ratatouille," best animated film.

Talks between writers and producers have been stalled for a month, though the weekend brought a new development that some in Hollywood sense could be an ice-breaker. The Directors Guild of America began its own negotiations with producers, and any deal the union negotiates might prompt writers to follow suit.