Tuned In: Cable bests NBC in Golden Globes coverage

Silver? Too shiny.

Bronze? Overly generous.

One thing's for certain: The Globes telecast on NBC was anything but Golden.

What started out as NBC's exclusive right to broadcast the ceremony got chipped away over the past week. NBC was going to show just a press conference after nominated actors refused to turn out in a show of support for striking Hollywood writers.

On Friday, after reported in-fighting between NBC and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that doles out the Globes, NBC lost its exclusivity. TV Guide Network, CNN and E! got to televise the press conference where winners were announced.

In the competition to name the winners first, NBC's peacock got plucked.

TV Guide Network, which carried the press conference live, named the winners first. CNN and E! operated on a delay, airing winners' names a few seconds later.

NBC did not cover the actual press conference, choosing to read the names of winners in the "Access Hollywood" studio several minutes after they were announced at The Beverly Hilton. (The time between the live announcement of winners and NBC's announcements grew longer as the hour went on because NBC paused for commercials; the cable networks did not.)

What a disaster. What an embarrassment. What a telling sign that NBC chose to put its executives' bruised egos ahead of common-sense broadcasting.

Anyone flipping through channels realized how irrelevant NBC was to the Globes last night. Why watch the Globes on NBC when you could learn who won sooner and with less fuss elsewhere?

Watching cable networks also spared viewers from NBC's over-produced mess. Plus, the press conference -- including cheesy entertainment-reporter presenters from competitive outlets -- seemed more authentic to this lo-fi Globes. Viewers could hear just a couple dozen hands clapping for the winners.

Even before the award announcements, the cable networks offered better coverage than NBC. Some might credit the network with trying to make the best out of a bad situation, but by calling in the news division to produce the alternative Globes telecast, NBC obliterated the wall between news and entertainment that's been chipped away at for years.

Beginning at 7 p.m., "Today's" Matt Lauer hosted two hours of pre-taped interviews with Globes nominees, sort of a long, drawn-out "Barbara Walters Special" without the soft-focus, tears or "What kind of a tree would you be?" questions.

What does it say when entertainment cable channels offer more context, more analysis than an NBC News production? TV Guide Network offered more news about the Globes controversies and the economic impact of the writers' strike in its live "Countdown to the Golden Globes" than could be found on NBC's pre-show.

NBC filled time with commentary by noted film critics Tiki Barber, Jerome Bettis and Cris Collinsworth.

Bettis on Denzel Washington in "American Gangster": "He was the best gangster since 'Scarface.' He's got to get some credit for that."

While TV Guide Network showed what was happening inside The Beverly Hilton ballroom where the names of winners would be read, NBC kept the interviews rolling with an occasional break for something actually entertaining, such as catty Kathy Griffin's commentary.

"Nicole Kidman has not been a human being since 'Far and Away,' " Griffin said. "She is just a beautiful, beautiful doll."

There was nothing beautiful about NBC's pathetic, petty coverage, but the Globes on cable were over and done in an efficient 32 minutes. Maybe the ceremony should air this way every year.

TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1112. Ask TV questions at post-gazette.com/tv under TV Q&A. First Published January 14, 2008 5:00 AM


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