When the 81st Golden Globes take place on January 7, 2024, in Los Angeles, will a sizeable audience tune in to the show, which will air on CBS and stream on Paramount Plus? And where will the revived, famously idiosyncratic event stand in the eyes of the industry?
These are the questions facing the Golden Globes leadership team, including president Helen Hoehne and former longtime Variety journalist Tim Gray, after awards founder Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) was dissolved following a coruscating Los Angeles Times exposé in 2021 that revealed financial and ethical impropriety and a lack of diversity among the 90-strong membership.
The end of the SAG-AFTRA strike will have sweetened the deal for CBS, as actors are now allowed to work and promote film and TV after nearly four months away. CBS’s Paramount Global stablemate Paramount+ will stream the ceremony live.
But industry newsletter Puck reported Jay Penske, the entertainment publishing mogul whose Dick Clark Productions acquired the Golden Globes with Eldridge Industries in June, had to accept a lower offer from CBS after the broadcaster twice turned down the gig following the departure of NBC earlier this year. According to the report, CBS paid well below the $60m annual sum stumped up by NBC.
Other networks and platforms are known to have passed, indicating an unease not just about the Globes’ recovery efforts but the appeal of awards shows themselves.
Longtime Globes broadcaster NBC did not renew its one-year-only deal after broadcasting the 2023 show (it sat out the 2022 ceremony like the rest of Hollywood, which turned that year’s show into a private members event). The 2023 ceremony was held on January 10, an eccentric date that fell on a Tuesday, drawing 6.3 million viewers — the second-lowest ratings ever. That chimes with the general viewership struggles at other awards shows, most notably the Oscars.
However, the 2024 Globes ceremony is back in its traditional Sunday-night slot for 2024 and CBS gets to air the ceremony immediately after its NFL On CBS show, which executives hope will mean sports fans stay on the sofa for another three hours.
After two years of reform, Germany-born, US-based journalist Hoehne, a former HFPA president who joined the Globes nearly 20 years ago, presides over a voting group that has grown to more than 300 mainly film reviewers (some are members of Fipresci) from 75 countries. The Globes says women account for 47% of the membership, and 60% of voters identify as racially and ethnically diverse.
In late August, Gray — who had been at Penske-owned Variety for more than 40 years — joined as executive vice president to oversee the membership board. In addition to Gray and Hoehne, the nine-strong board consists of business and entertainment people, among them Toronto International Film Festival vice president of PR and communications Judy Lung; Red Sea International Film Festival managing director Shivani Pandya Malhotra; entrepreneur and Golden Globes chief diversity officer Neil Phillips; and Turkish journalist Barbaros Tapan.
The group is continuing its philanthropic work and Gray promises the industry will be “pleased when they see integrity restored while the sense of fun remains”.
The show itself has traditionally been the most playful ceremony on the circuit, where the alcohol flows freely and nobody takes things too seriously. UK comic Ricky Gervais set the benchmark for irreverence as the Globes host on several occasions; January’s host is yet to be announced.
The awards recognise TV as well as film categories, which broadens the audience appeal. A few tweaks this year suggest the new organisers are pushing for a more populist appeal than ever. There are two new voting categories recognising cinematic and box-office achievement in film (eligible titles must have earned $150m worldwide and $100m in the US, or demonstrate “commensurate digital streaming viewership recognised by trusted industry sources”) and best stand-up comedian on television.
Talent likes recognition, plus nominations and wins can bring bonuses and box-office bumps for strategists and studios. Last season, leading publicists who had shunned the group after the Los Angeles Times report urged clients to campaign and there is no reason why this year will be any different.
And even as many in the industry have privately rolled their eyes at each new press release extolling the group’s ongoing revival efforts, there is an awareness the Globes are doing what they can to endear themselves to Hollywood.
“Everyone is in wait-and-see mode,” as one strategist puts it; they have been inviting Globes members to general voter screenings. “They’re definitely trying.”