By split screen, Fey and Poehler kick off bicoastal Globes

Entertainment

In this video grab issued Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, by NBC, hosts Tina Fey, left, from New York, and Amy Poehler, from Beverly Hills, Calif., speak at the Golden Globe Awards. (NBC via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — With nominees appearing by remote video and hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on different sides of the country, a very socially distanced 78th Golden Globe Awards trudged on in the midst of the pandemic and a storm of criticism.

Fey took the stage at New York’s Rainbow Room while Poehler remained at the Globes’ usual home at the Beverly Hilton. In their opening monologue, they managed their typically well-timed back-and-forth despite being almost 3,000 miles from each other.

“I always knew my career would end with me wandering around the Rainbow Room pretending to talk to Amy,” said Fey. “I just thought it would be later.”

They appeared before masked attendees but no stars. Instead, the tables were occupied by “smoking-hot first responders and essential workers,” said Fey.

In a production nightmare but one that’s become familiar during the pandemic, the night’s first winner accepted his award while muted. Only after presenter Laura Dern apologized did Daniel Kaluuya, who won best supporting actor for his performance as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” get his speech in. When he finally came through, he waged his finger at the camera and said, “You’re doing me dirty!”

Pandemic improvising was only part of the damage control the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Globes, found itself dealing with. A pair of extensive reports by The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times in the week leading up to the awards renewed scrutiny on the press association and its 87 voting members.

Among the most damning details was the revelation that there are no Black voting members in the group, something that only reinforced criticism that the press association — which host Ricky Gervais last year called “very, very racist” in his opening monologue — is in need of overhauling. This year, none of the most acclaimed Black-led films — “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “One Night in Miami,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Da 5 Bloods” — were nominated for the Globes’ best picture award.

With the HFPA potentially fighting for its Hollywood life, Sunday’s Globes were part apology tour. Fey and Poehler started in quickly on the issue.

“Look, a lot of flashy garbage got nominated but that happens,” said Poehler. “That’s like their thing. But a number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked.”

Within the first half-hour of the NBC telecast, members of the press association also appeared to pledge change.

We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.”

The show, postponed two months from its usual early-January perch, promised little of the glamour that makes the Globes one of the frothiest and glitziest events of the year. Due to the pandemic, there was no parade of stars down the red carpet outside the Beverly Hilton.

When attendees would normally be streaming down the red carpet on Sunday evening, many stars were instead posing virtually. Regina King, resplendent in a dazzling dress, stood before her yawning dog.

“This is my first virtual red carpet,” said Carey Mulligan, a nominee for her performance in “Promising Young Woman,” from a hotel room in London. “This is the first time I’ve worn heels in a good 18 months, I think.”

Leslie Odom Jr., nominated for his performance as Sam Cooke in “One Night in Miami,” said he was celebrating in Los Angeles. “My father-in-law just arrived. We’re going to make some chili tonight,” said Odom on the NBC pre-show. “I’m just going to try not to get any of it on the suit.”

As showtime neared, the backlash over the HFPA threatened to overwhelm the Globes. The Screen Actors Guild on Sunday joined others in calling on the HFPA to diversify its membership and better reflect the industry it holds sway over.

“As our colleagues across the industry say, TIME’S UP,” the guild said in a statement. “The time for change is now.”

Two-time nominee Sterling K. Brown, who’s presenting Sunday, said in an Instagram post that “having a multitude of Black presenters does not absolve you of your lack of diversity.”

“87 people wield a tremendous amount of power,” said Brown, who won a Globe in 2018. “For any governing body of a current Hollywood award show to have such a lack of voting representation illustrates a level of irresponsibility that should not be ignored.”

Yet the Globes have persisted because of their popularity (the show ranks as the third most-watched award show, after the Oscars and Grammys), their profitability (NBC paid $60 million for broadcast rights in 2018) and because they serve as important marketing material for contending films and Oscar hopefuls. That may be especially true this year when the pandemic has upset the normal rhythms of buzz in a virtual awards season lacking the usual frenzy.

The Globes are happening on the original date of the Academy Awards, which are instead to be held April 25.

Netflix comes in with a commanding 42 nominations, including a leading six nods for David Fincher’s “Mank” and “The Crown” also topping TV nominees with six nods. Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” also from Netflix, is also a heavyweight with five nominations.

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