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Golden Globes: Expect the Unexpected

Handicapping the Golden Globes is like throwing darts at a dartboard while blindfolded.  That is “because you really can’t get into their heads,” say TV Guide’s resident critic (and B&C contributor) Matt Roush.

The “heads” he is referring to are the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a merry band of foreign journalists who like to give a good party, reward creative underdogs and bedevil the expectations of the Hollywood community.  

Known for throwing sliders and curveballs, the HFPA goes its own way. Asked to handicap the Golden Globes, Phil Rosenthal, the TV critic for the Chicago Sun-Times cracked, “They’re already pretty handicapped as it is. Somehow they’ve become known as a precursor for the Emmys. Well, they got the pre part right, but I don’t know about the rest.”

In fact, though, sometimes the Globes voters seem more savvy than the Emmy crowd.

“They’re a weird assortment of people,” says Newsday chief TV critic Noel Holston. “Who knows who these people are?”

In Hollywood, though, Holston agrees, the awards announce you’re hot stuff. But he’s unsure exactly how the Globes got their sizzle. “I guess they’re important because everybody chooses to believe they’re important,” he says. “And they’re on TV.”

Wisteria Lane’s Night?

Not everyone’s that cynical. “You can feel a rhythm and a wave that starts to build as these kinds of accolades come in,” says Erwin More, a talent agent at William Morris. “It is absolutely an assist in helping build momentum around a career.”

The Jan. 16 NBC telecast may be special for Desperate Housewives, the breakout ABC hit, which is nominated for Best Comedy Series. Also, three of the five nominees for Best Actress (Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman) are from the show; Nicollette Sheridan is nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Desperate Housewives is even competing against the Golden Globes show itself on the Sunday schedule. 

The heavy dose of Desperate is the most interesting wrinkle this year and a windfall for ABC. “It sure doesn’t hurt,” says Kevin Brockman, senior vice president for entertainment communications for the Disney/ABC Television Group.

The other TV categories don’t have such momentous storylines.

In the Best Actor in a Drama category, nominations go to FX’s Michael Chiklis (The Shield), Denis Leary (Rescue Me) and Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck), along with Ian McShane from HBO’s Deadwood and James Spader from ABC’s Boston Legal.

Not a bad list, says Roush, but he grouses, “The fact that Martin Sheen [The West Wing] and James Gandolfini [The Sopranos] aren’t nominated in that category is just a riot.” He’s betting on McShane, “who was inexplicably passed over at the Emmys last year and has the most scenery-chewing part. I mean, good grief, what villain has had more outrageous lines than what he’s had in Deadwood?”

As for Best Drama, “the Globes are all about buzz, glamour and possibly quality—which is not an imperative,” Roush says. With that in mind, his choice is the other ABC water-cooler favorite, Lost, which had to beat Fox’s 24, HBO’s Deadwood and The Sopranos, and FX’s Nip/Tuck. “The Sopranos had one of its best years, but does that matter?” wonders Roush. “If it doesn’t, then Lost will win.”

Jason Bateman Is Due

Among the comedies, here comes Desperate Housewives. It is competing against Fox’s Arrested Development, HBO’s Entourage and Sex and the City, and NBC’s Will & Grace. “I think Desperate Housewives is going to trump everything,” says Roush. 

In fact, a lot of people think the same way, but Rosenthal and Holston point out the Globes sometimes surprise viewers. Last year, it picked BBC America’s The Office as the best situation comedy. Most of the nation had never heard of it.

“Frankly, [Globe voters] often make better picks than the Emmys,” Holston says.

As for Best Actress in a Comedy, Roush is betting that Desperate star Cross, the Martha Stewart clone gone haywire, will win.  “There’s something so completely original about what she’s doing: deep, dark and really twisted.” Rosenthal takes a slightly more cynical view of the nominations. “The thing about the Golden Globes is they like to pick pretty women.” By that measure, he picks any actress from Desperate Housewives: “They’re tailor-made for the Golden Globes.”

Rosenthal also notes that only one major female cast member from Housewives wasn’t nominated: the tarty Eva Longoria—who, it was widely reported, missed a Golden Globes luncheon for personal reasons and feels she was snubbed as a result.

In the Best Actor in a Comedy realm, Roush thinks it’s time for Jason Bateman of Fox’s Arrested Development. He calls him “the heart and soul of that show.” Rosenthal agrees: “For that show to work on any level, you have to have someone who sees how weird his family is, and he conveys that perfectly.” But, he adds, the winner could be Larry David (HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm), too: “He’s our inner asshole.”

Among actresses in a drama: “Jennifer Garner’s star power [ABC’s Alias] could get her a Globe,” says Roush, “but I’m thinking that Christine Lahti represents the kind of low-rated, quality show [The WB’s Jack & Bobby] that the Globes have recognized before.” By Rosenthal’s rules, Garner’s cuter, “but if you’re talking acting, Edie Falco wins.”

It should all make for an interesting evening where anything can happen—and often does (especially with Robin Williams getting a special award this year.)   “What I love about the Globes,” says Roush, “is their willingness to go off the charts.”