The Penske Bowl Should Feature Some Hail Marys

Hollywood’s awards season kicks off at long last tonight in Beverly Hills with the Golden Globes, trying to be a phoenix rising from the ashes of mismanagement and reportedly corrupt and biased voting to try and regain some lost relevance and significance.  The ASSOCIATED PRESS’ Jake Coyle gives a nuanced, even-handed narrative:

The Golden Globes are back from the dead, and ready to party.

The long-running award show will again have the champagne flowing Sunday night when the 81st Globes begin at 8 p.m. EST. Much will look the same as always when well-attired celebrities gather at the Beverly Hilton International Ballroom in Los Angeles.

Can the revamped Globes recapture the bubbly, irreverent spirit of all those shows hosted by Ricky Gervais or Tina Fey and Amy Poehler? Those broadcasts helped turn the Globes into the third biggest award show of the year, after the Oscars and the Grammys.

And perhaps even more than who the winners and losers of these still-coveted trinkets for excellence in both theatrical releases and television series, not that the current Hollywood seems to assert there’s still a difference, will be whether or not enough people beyond the TMZ will still care.  As Coyle reminds, last year, in spite of finally being relieved of the shackles of COVID restrictions and reluctance that compromised the 2021 and 2022 events on top of all the internal mishagoss, it didn’t exactly bounce back:

A few years ago, the Golden Globes were on the cusp of collapse. After The Los Angeles Times reported that the HFPA had no Black members, Hollywood boycotted the organization. The 2022 Globes were all but canceled and taken off TV. After reforms, the Globes returned to NBC last year in a one-year deal, but the show was booted to Tuesday evening. With Jerrod Carmichael hosting, the telecast attracted 6.3 million viewers, a new low on NBC and a far cry from the 20 million that once tuned in.

Well, the Globes are back in the prime time slot of Sunday night, when at least the day’s pace will allow the usual trickling in through the afternoon of freshly dolled up stars and even more glammed-out executives waiting for their on-camera opportunities, and, more importantly, have given them a chance to have gotten a smattering of sleep after the parties.  And if you visit any one of the many Hollywood-themed news sites, you’d already know how awesome those parties were.  Witness the upbeat report from DEADLINE’s Robert Lang:

Golden Globes Weekend is already underway with a slew of parties celebrating nominees ahead of Sunday’s ceremony at the Beverly Hilton.

Companies from Apple to Netflix and W Magazine to the Globes themselves are hosting pre- and post-Globes events across L.A. in the first major Hollywood party weekend not just of 2024 but of an extra-busy awards season.

Or this deeper dive from VARIETY’s Mark Malkin:

W magazine continued its annual reign of the Friday night before the Golden Globes.

The fashion publication’s Sara Moonves and Lynn Hirschberg hosted their yearly Best Performances party at the Chateau Marmont hotel in West Hollywood.

The guest list for the penthouse suite celebration included Margot Robbie, Nic Cage, Emma Stone, Jack Huston, Greta Gerwig, Gabrielle Union, Barry Keoghan, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Kaia Gerber, Addison Rae, James Marsden, Natasha Lyonne, Theo James, Hannah Einbinder, Andrew Scott, Colman Domingo and many more.

And the fact that a star list like that will be showing up at all is an improvement from last year’s anonymous and afterthought ceremony, which was effectively reduced to similar stature that the Streamy Awards received–ubiquitous online clips and live-streams.  Oh, don’t worry, they’ll be options besides the CBS broadcast.   After all, these Globes, now without NBC as a partner, will be going head-to-head with Sunday Night Football for the first time, and it just happens to be the Bills and Dolphins going at it for a division championship and a playoff home game (for Buffalo, it might even be to salvage a post-season berth at all).

CBS, as the trades are reporting, is at least providing a football lead-in that features the Kansas City Chiefs playing their season finale right down the 405, leading to speculation that with her boyfriend Travis Kelce in town, the likelihood of Taylor Swift showing up is reasonably strong, though at the moment she’s not on the official list of attendees.  It’s the kind of potentially viral moment that could lead to tune-in, let alone online traffic for news of it happening.  Which is kind of the playbook that the company that’s trying to save the awards is hoping for.

Because, as Coyle reminds, this is ultimately an event meant to showcase that sort of synergistic opportunity:

The Golden Globes were acquired by Eldridge Industries and Dick Clark Productions, which Penske Media owns, and turned into a for-profit venture.  Questions still remain about the Globes’ long-term future, but their value to Hollywood studios remains providing a marketing boost to awards contenders.

And you’d be right to assume that the guy who’s gonna ultimately take home more gold than anyone else from those campaigns would be one Jay Penske.

Penske fancies himself as a mogul himself, having acquired several legacy brands to elevate the importance and value proposition for his tech bro buddies who still have hefty promo budgets and who still seem to believe there’s some sort of actual correlation between winning awards and increasing profits.  But to his credit, he’s identified a symbiotic relationship akin to what ESPN has fostered with college football, and the creation of dozens of holiday college football bowl games that provides far larger audiences for live games than virtually anything else anywhere in sports or on TV at that time of year.  And at a crossroads time for an industry still reeling from the impact of two lengthy strikes, and looking ahead to a year that will not see many significant new releases or premieres for months as a by-product, the need for hype and lengthy drumrolls, especially for the studios struggling for survival, this awards season couldn’t come at a more opportune time.  Penske will be more than happy to take their money, this weekend and beyond.

And don’t be surprised that given that kind of existential pressure as well as the legacy for provocative topical humor (Gervais’ rants as emcee, Carmichael’s sometimes bitter jibes at the HFPA for what he saw as its anti-Black history during last year’s online coverage) in a landscape where the 2024 elections, on the heels of two equally incidinery speeches from the leading candidates effectively blaming each other for the potential fall of democracy, not to mention the ongoing conflicts in Gaza and the Ukraine, that despite the urging of more cautious publicists someone, maybe more than a few, will say something to spark extemporaneous applause; possibly even amidst disruptive protests.  And for those of you who might be inclined to dismiss that as a possibility, remember this is the same industry that reveled in a Will Smith slap, an incident that many believe was at least planned in part by a producing team tasked with goosing declining Oscars audiences.  The Oscars didn’t face as much of a crisis then to justify their own existence as the Globes do now.

Who knows what Jay Penske and his minions might have up their sleeve for this salute to corporate synergy?

Maybe you can find them in…ahem…the Penske files?

Until next time…

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