With the Golden Globes called off, Hollywood assesses the damages

The awards ceremony is a major casualty of the 10-week-long screenwriters' strike.

By , Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor , Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

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    Still striking: Screenwriters picketed Tuesday outside NBC studios in Burbank, Calif. The network will not be airing the Golden Globes this year.
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    Still striking: Screenwriters picketed Tuesday outside NBC studios in Burbank, Calif. The network will not be airing the Golden Globes this year.
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The manicurists, mud facialists, and hairstylists at Frederick Fekkai Salon on Rodeo Drive will be home for the first time ever on Golden Globe Sunday. Joining them in an unexpected day off on Jan. 13 are enough limo drivers, party caterers, gown designers, bling-jewelry renters, and other ancillary workers to account for about $80 million in lost revenue to the Los Angeles economy.

Cancellation of the Golden Globe Awards due to the Hollywood writers' strike will also be a financial blow for NBC, which had planned to broadcast the ceremony, and for the sponsor of the first-of-the-season awards show for the film industry. NBC will return as much as $20 million to advertisers who had purchased commercial time on the show, while the sponsoring Hollywood Foreign Press Association could lose roughly $5 million for its operating expenses, say analysts.

If the writers' strike lasts long enough to force the Academy Awards off the air on Feb. 24, they warn, the financial toll will rise considerably. The Golden Globes were canceled this week, to be replaced by a one-hour press conference Jan. 14 in which the winners will be announced, because celebrities will not cross picket lines to accept their awards in the traditional way.

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Though severe, the financial setback is not the only casualty of the 10-week standoff between screenwriters and film studios. Less tangible but still important is the loss of a national "gather 'round the electronic hearth" moment that these awards shows can provide, say social scientists. Despite their self-congratulatory and self-promotional nature, the programs can spotlight top-quality but unsung movies and TV programs and help set the bar higher for the viewing public.

"The losses of income to furriers and restaurants and even to the network are significant," says Robert Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University in New York, speaking of the Golden Globes and Oscar telecasts. "But I think the biggest loss is that of these multihour-long advertisements for the movie industry, which generate new interest in unseen pictures, bringing a wider audience to the kind of quality that would remain invisible without them."

The awards shows, viewed by mammoth audiences around the world, typically generate fresh public interest in nominated movies or television programs – and additional sales of DVDs and movie-theater tickets as people who watch nominating clips, stars, directors, and producers decide they'd like to see the full product.

"In the last couple of years especially, the Oscars and Golden Globes have served the purpose of bringing wider audiences to quality independent films and well-written, well-produced TV shows," says Mr. Thompson.

The most serious impact is a further erosion of the network/viewer relationship, says Marc Berman, TV analyst of Mediaweek magazine. Awards shows such as the Golden Globes and the Oscars – not to mention the People's Choice Awards, which lost half its audience due to a truncated telecast this week – are the tent poles of the network landscape, he says. Viewers' habits may change permanently as the shows fade from the screen, he says. "The whole network model is rapidly unraveling."

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