Pick up the paper Tuesday morning and you’ll read all about the big winner at the previous night’s Golden Globes. The headlines will scream about “Brokeback Mountain” or Woody Allen’s “Match Point” but no matter who comes out on top, most of the nation won’t relate.Call “Lost” the evening’s champ and a collective “Way to go!” will be heard throughout the land.Yeah, the Globes are all about the movies, as the ceremony unofficially kicks off the Academy Awards race and its ramifications determine who are the favorites to take home Oscars. But especially this year, when so many of the movies are indies which much of the filmgoing public have never seen — where’s “King Kong” in all this? — the Globes’ connection to the common folk are in its TV categories.
Take Fox’s brilliant “Arrested Development” a show that’s about to be canceled due to low ratings. Over 4 million people watch a single episode — and that’s considered abysmal. George Clooney’s political drama “Good Night, and Good Luck” is a big success and won’t even get close to 1 million total viewers when its run is over. The film will probably be in multiplexes for close to six months.So while the studios, critics and publicists may get all teary-eyed about exalting new kings of the big screen, for the average consumer it’s the TV nominees that one can judge for themselves who deserves to win and lose.And if history dictates, they’ll be plenty of new blood for viewers to get all gushy about.
Splashy debuts rewardedWhen it comes to their TV choices, the Globes — a group called the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which consists of about 95 members who live in the U.S. but write for foreign publications — are all about the new and the bold.If you’re a show that wants Globes recognition, you better make a splashy debut or pretty much forget about it. Of this years five best dramas, four are freshman series — “Grey’s Anatomy” (though currently in season No. 2, it debuted in midseason in 2005 and is first-time Globes eligible), “Commander in Chief,” “Prison Break” and “Rome” — and the only returning program is “Lost,” which demands a nomination due to its watercooler status. On the comedy side, “Everybody Hates Chris,” “My Name Is Earl” and “Weeds” are the newcomers.Not only did “Housewives” and Teri Hatcher win in their first year but so did Ian McShane (“Deadwood”), Anthony LaPaglia (“Without a Trace”), Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”), Kiefer Sutherland (“24), Jennifer Garner (“Alias”) and Michael Chiklis (“The Shield”).Fighting for TV awards recognition vs. big brother Emmy, the Globes have capitalized on the hot and edgy. The group may be way out there sometimes with its picks — some people still gripe about Keri Russell winning best actress for “Felicity” in 1999, but her Ben vs. Noel dilemma was awards-worthy in my book. But isn’t that kind of debate better than wildly overrated William Shatner winning an Emmy again in the mind-numbingly dull “Boston Legal”?
And then there are those winners that are impossible to wrap your head around. Four years ago, the HFPA deemed Charlie Sheen best actor in a comedy for “Spin City.” Charlie Sheen? When thinking back on television’s great comedic forces — Jackie Gleason, Carroll O’Connor and Kelsey Grammer among the many — Sheen’s name doesn’t come tripping off the tongue.But maybe the Globes knew something we didn’t. After starting his career with films like the Oscar-winning “Platoon,” Sheen is now a bonafide star on TV’s most-watched comedy, “Two and a Half Men.” Traditional family sitcoms, such as “Everybody Loves Raymond,” never have been a Globes fave among comedies. Not including the category-bending “Housewives,” regular broadcast sitcoms are passed over for smarter, more creative shows that appear on cable networks. Apparently when it comes to laughter, that’s something you have to pay for. “The Office” (BBC America; 2004), “Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO; 2003) and “Sex and the City (HBO, 2000-2002) are all winners that a great majority of Americans have never seen. This year, three of the six nominations, “Entourage,” “Weeds” and “Curb,” are cable-based in a completely wide-open field.Unlike the Oscars and Emmys, which are a bit easier to forecast, trying to figure out how an Australian who writes for a Scottish paper will vote can be a bit of a crapshoot. But here are some educated guesses:Lead actor, comedy: Though Sheen obviously has a devoted Globes posse (see above), Jason Lee in “My Name Is Earl” is the breakout star of a less-than-stellar new season.Lead actress, comedy: Is this category so desperate that all four “Housewives” made the final cut? Is no one else besides Mary-Louise Parker of “Weeds” good enough? No love for Tichina Arnold of “Everybody Hates Chris,” Jaime Pressly of “Earl” or Ashley Jensen of “Extras”? Let's go with "Housewives" Eva Longoria, who’s sure to get the sympathy vote after being left out of the race last year.Lead actor, drama: With apologies to Hugh Laurie and Kiefer Sutherland, in this duel of the heartthrobs, “Prison Break’s” Wentworth Miller edges out Patrick Dempsey’s Dr. McDreamy from "Grey's Anatomy."Lead actress, drama: In one of the weakest actress fields in years, Geena Davis gets the nod as our first distaff president on "Commander in Chief."Best comedy: A very tight race between HBO’s “Entourage” and NBC’s “Earl,” but knowing the Globes’ love for all things Hollywood, “Entourage” squeaks it out.Best drama: Understanding how much they detest following in the Emmys' footsteps, Globe voters choose “Grey’s Anatomy” over “Lost.”Stuart Levine is a senior editor at Daily Variety in Los Angeles.