The Golden Globes--Gone

We've got really bad news. Nobody will get to see Jack Nicholson smiling like the Cheshire Cat over a bottle of wine at Hollywood's biggest frat party this year. Nobody will watch tipsy—and/or long-winded—stars stumble to the podium in obscure categories like best supporting actress in a miniseries. And nobody will have to endure more Ryan Seacrest than we already do. That's right. The Golden Globes have been canceled this year—the first awards show casualty to come from the writer's strike—replaced by a press conference where the winners will simply be announced and the awards accepted by … whom?

How could the Golden Globes just fall into a black hole? On second thought, does anybody care? The awards are handed out by a group of 100 or so mysterious foreign journalists who obviously care less about cinema than celebrity. How else to explain their nominations for Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks, not on anybody's short list of anything this year? Sure, some 20 million people tune in to the Globes telecast, but it's mostly to see what the celebrities are wearing, who gets stuck in the bathroom when their categories are announced and how badly the wine-filled winners slur their words.

Which isn't to say that the assassination of the Globes is a victimless crime. The movie studios stand to lose plenty without NBC's broadcast. The Globes are the Iowa caucuses of the awards season, the event that sets the stage for the endless competitions yet to come. The studios need the awards to kick off their Oscar marketing campaigns, either with an actual award or the free publicity that the show provides. Focus Features is surely banking on a Best Picture Drama Globe for "Atonement" to help push ticket sales (in limited release, the drama has so far grossed $19.2 million). Even if it didn't win, its stars Keira Knightley and James McAvoy would attend, plugging the movie on the red carpet and at ye merrie olde "Atonement" table, and the broadcast would have featured scenes from the film.

The lead contender in the musical/comedy category, "Sweeney Todd," could badly use help. The Tim Burton film has grossed only $38.7 million in three weeks, but a win—or, better yet, an appearance by the reclusive Johnny Depp—would have been a big boost. Chris Thilk, a writer for the Movie Marketing Madness Web site, doesn't think the winning films should even be advertised as Golden Globe winners this year. "It creates more of a disconnect in the audience's mind than it might be worth in prestige advertising," he says. "You have the audience going, 'What, the Golden Globes were on?!' It's not worth it."

But no matter what happens, there's one show that will definitely go on. The Screen Actors Guild Awards show, which has received a waiver from the writers guild to let its members write for the show, will air on Jan. 27. If the Globes are a frat-party blowout, the SAGS are like a Sadie Hawkins dance, where the wallflowers find themselves, temporarily, the belles of the ball. This year's SAG Awards will be telecast on TNT—the wallflower of cable channels. But this year it's the only place in town where the stars will be twinkling on the red carpet. So far, at least. Please don't make it the last, Oscar. Please.