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Champagne, the Golden Globe Awards and Idiot Shenanigans

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During my 20-plus years on television, I've witnessed my fair share of industry shenanigans, many I can't repeat. The movie ads touting Golden Globe Awards winners, even though the winners have yet to be handed out, fall under the "idiot shenanigan" category.

Look, I'm all for a good shenanigan. But this is like a kid telling his parents he got the lead in the school play when he really just made the first cut. It's silly. It's wrong. It's deceptive and laughable.

Here's what happened. There are two good movies, Philomena and August: Osage County, which received multiple Golden Globe nominations. However, ads suddenly appeared with the words WINNER and JULIA ROBERTS next to Roberts' face in an ad for August: Osage County -- not to mention WINNER, BEST ACTRESS and MERYL STREEP next to Streep's picture. Philomena did the same thing with Judi Dench's Best Actress Drama nomination by sliding in the word WINNER. There is just one problem: The Golden Globe Awards show is weeks away. So, clearly no winners have been announced.

When I saw the ads on TV, I thought, "What? The studios are not stooping to that level, are they?"

I quickly paused my DVR, hit rewind to the beginning of the ad and pressed play. Oh yeah, there is some serious stooping here. In fact, I had to squint to see the words nomination and nominee, because they were dwarfed by the word WINNER.

I figured the Hollywood Foreign Press Association would have something to say about this since the Golden Globe Awards is its baby. I've worked with the HFPA since the late 1990s when I was on Access Hollywood and always found them quick to react to a situation. On occasion, I'd question their reaction and some were indeed head scratchers, but they usually had a fairly quick response to a situation. They reacted quickly.

According to a number of sources, HFPA President Theo Kingma sent a warning letter to various studios, public relations firms and campaigners that it is unacceptable to use the word WINNER in ads touting Golden Globe Awards nominations for their films.

But here is the rub. This is, in part (a very small part), HFPA's fault. You would never see this leading up to the Oscars, because the Academy prohibits this kind of wording in Oscar advertisements. The Academy dictates and controls, often to a fault, every single aspect of the Oscars. The HFPA not so much. Think of the HFPA/Golden Globe Awards as the uptight Academy's hip, cool and fun cousin.

I have chatted with nearly every nominated major star over the years on the red carpet and they prefer the atmosphere of the Golden Globe Awards to the Oscars. Don't get me wrong, they'd rather have an Oscar if they had to choose, but the Golden Globe Awards are loose, they serve you dinner and hand you champagne as you walk into the ballroom. I'm going to that cousin's house for Christmas dinner.

Once inside, the stars mill about their tables, catch-up with other stars and actually meet some of them for the first time. We often think that all the stars must know each other, but often times I've found that they don't and are eager to meet someone whose work they admire. It was always fun for me to see the interaction before the show and during the commercial breaks. This was especially so as the show ran into it's second and third hours and the alcohol started to kick in. Juxtapose that with everyone at the Oscars sitting in rows of seats and nervous as all get-out because, well, it's the Oscars!

Look, I get the studios' motivation for touting nominations and pushing the envelope in these ads. It's money. There is a good breakdown on BoxOfficeMojo.com showing a significant boost in box office revenue once a film is Oscar nominated. So, it stands to reason studios would try the WINNER route with the Golden Globe nominations to juice the box office.

I say keep the champagne, continue the fun of the Golden Globe Awards but check the ad shenanigans at the door.

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