Golden Globe TV Nominations Embrace International Appeal

Rob Owen
Variety

In the current TV environment, more series aim for global appeal, and that is often echoed in Golden Globe Award nominations that include international stars and series. In part, that reflects the makeup of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., but it’s also a reflection of the new global content culture.

Last year, the Globes nominated Netflix’s “Narcos,” Starz’s “Outlander” and PBS’s “Wolf Hall” and had acting nominations for Caitriona Balfe (“Outlander”), Eva Green (“Penny Dreadful”), and Wagner Moura (“Narcos”) among other international stars.

Ultimately the Globes bestowed trophies on British miniseries “Wolf Hall” and Mexican actor Gael García Bernal for Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle.”

This year, Netflix’s British drama “The Crown” and HBO’s “The Night Of” (with its international cast) appear likely to draw Globes noms. Joe Lewis, Amazon Studios head of half-hour and drama series development, has hopes for Amazon’s “Fleabag” starring and written by Brit Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

“She started this as a one-woman show at Edinburgh,” Lewis says. “The BBC shot a test pilot and we came in and helped make the thing global. She deserves to be recognized. Phoebe is an extraordinary talent and I would not be shocked to see her there.”

Lewis says the new world order of television favors a global approach to series.

“Communications networks have gone from local to regional to domestic to international and I think we are the logical end point of that,” he says. “We’re an international network and I think we approach our shows from that way. What stories can we tell that are different? What can we tell on a global scale?”

Licata & Co. awards consultant Richard Licata, who works for some of the outlets with series clamoring for Globes attention, says he’s a fan of the HFPA because its members have a passion for television.

“Do they kind of extrapolate shows that look like that have a more global feel to them? Yeah, they do,” he says. But he praises the organization for its support of shows no matter the size of the viewership. “Their choices are from the heart and the mind. I could go all the way back to the ’90s when everybody ignored ‘Party of Five’ and they celebrated it. If they like something, they will get behind it even if it hasn’t clicked with a huge audience.”

Amazon’s Lewis also credits the HFPA with bringing new programs to the attention of a wider audience.

“The HFPA is wont to discover the next big thing,” he says, noting that the international makeup of the group may be a factor in that approach. “There’s a lot more history of public funding for the arts in Europe, so it’s not a coincidence that the more global journalists tend to take to the things that are more art-driven and maybe not as commercial. We’ve seen that’s a way they’ve separated themselves from the Emmys and other awards shows, too.”

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht says the need for programs to have international appeal and the value of winning a Globe have risen hand in hand.

“I think a Globe has become increasingly meaningful from a business point of view,” he says. “I take it as a more in-depth award that has a more in-depth analysis. I know the members take their jobs seriously. They have a broad exposure to what’s going on in the media landscape. They watch the shows, often go and visit sets of shows. Also, the Globes are an international organization. They have a sense of the scale and scope of a show’s appeal beyond the U.S. market.”

And there’s another difference from other awards: The Globes aren’t awarded by peers.

“To me a Globes nomination is a lot less political than some of the peer entertainment media organizations made up of members of different unions or different disciplines,” he says. “Being a journalist, covering these shows and voting for this awards recognition is their job. They’re not out there doing jobs as actors or directors or full-time jobs as executives and then voting on awards as a kind of afterthought because they’re a member of their organization.”

Albrecht is optimistic the Starz movie “The Dresser,” starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins, will get some Globes attention along with returning HFPA favorite “Outlander.”
Chris Beachum, managing editor of awards site GoldDerby.com, says Netflix’s “The Crown” is likely to be catnip to HFPA voters.

“When I first saw the trailer I thought it looked like ‘Downton Abbey,’ which is a Globes favorite, meets ‘House of Cards,’ another Globes favorite,” he says. “It has that political maneuvering and also the British aristocracy feel that seems right up their alley.”

Beachum also thinks Hopkins might get a nomination for HBO’s “Westworld” and isn’t counting out Damian Lewis for Showtime’s “Billions” or Hugh Laurie for Hulu’s “Chance.”
It’s less likely last year’s international winners will repeat.

“Unlike most awards groups, the HFPA does not mind giving an award nomination one year and immediately taking it away the next year,” Beachum says. “We see that all the time. [In 2015] ‘The Affair’ won for series and Ruth Wilson for actress and neither one was nominated last year. I don’t think it’s a slight, they just want to move on and reward new stuff. Given the sheer number of new things this year, I think knocking out a lot of last year’s winners and nominees is likely.”

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