It took three minutes to access the Beverly Hilton by driving west on Santa Monica Blvd. from Beverly Hills this Sunday.
Any other year on Golden Globes night, it would have been a nightmare of street closures, clumsy shuttle buses, snipers on rooftops, and the trusted group of protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church who promise Hollywood that it will burn in the streets. fires of hell.
But this year, the valet line at the iconic Los Angeles venue was empty. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association put on a (comparatively) miniscule show to celebrate the best of film and television with very little fanfare. The downsized event came as the beleaguered HFPA saw a talent boycott over a lack of diversity in its membership and some questionable business practices within the remarkably small voting body of 105 global journalists.
Wearing black ties and modest dresses, HFPA members lined up at a solitary registration table flanked by COVID-19 compliance officers in the lobby. The hotel’s international ballroom, from where NBC normally broadcasts the annual ceremony, was guarded by two metal detectors and a lean production staff.
Prominent figures from show business seemed to make good on their promise to avoid the event – no famous face, top executive, or notable publicity representative could be seen. Sources said a handful of HFPA consultants attended, but people-watching was made more difficult thanks to COVID protocols.
An attendee inside the ballroom estimated that a total of 200 guests were present, all masked for the duration of the show. Dinner was not served indoors, but Mediterranean fare and fresh sashimi awaited the notoriously party-loving group afterward in the former Trader Vic’s poolside space. Decorated in shades of blush and black, guests openly sipped champagne and smoked cigarettes – a clear indication that the international outfit has arrived in Los Angeles.
The Hilton transforms into a small metropolis on a normal Globes night. Up to eight of the major studios and chains host a lavish viewing and after-party main event. Paying hotel guests are relegated behind velvet ropes, where they can gawk at movie stars outside of the Hilton’s business center and copier. But tonight, tumbleweeds may have flown down the marble hallways as well.
By far my favorite image of the night came before the doors were sealed for the start of the show at 6 p.m., when a couple marched through the guest registration line in formal wear, donning their Hilton hotel robes. , carrying books and towels for an afternoon by the pool.
The reception staff and idle workers in the rooftop lounge lamented how slow the day had been, most blaming it on the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant (we have to gift Hilton staff with a subscription to Variety).
Many in the industry questioned the HFPA’s decision to host an in-person ceremony. The collective “timeout” given to them by the creative community (and its broadcast partner NBC) was meant to buy the organization time to review its problem areas. But the atmosphere in the place was one of great emotion. Thunderous applause was heard throughout the hotel lobby for winners such as Best Drama Film “The Power of the Dog,” as well as prerecorded cameos from Jamie Lee Curtis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Perhaps the biggest contributor to the silent and apocalyptic vibe at the 2022 Golden Globes was the absence of a red carpet. After all, award shows are all about pomp, and even a traveling photographer couldn’t elevate seriousness above that of a medical convention banquet. Through the occasional opening of the ballroom doors, two photographic walls erected were glimpsed on which the HPFA logo was stamped. Guests posed for selfies there before heading to the after party.
As different as the night may seem, take comfort in the fact that the show, which did not air in any capacity, ran for about 10 minutes in overtime. That, and the holy tradition of gift bags, was alive and well. White plastic bags the size of a pair by Manolo Blahniks waited for guests as they made their way to the self-service parking lot.