LOS ANGELES — With the cancellation of the Golden Globes, Hollywood and the fashion industry are worried that the biggest awards show of them all, the Oscars, might be a casualty if the Writers Guild of America strike isn’t settled.
The decision of NBC and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to pull the plug on the Globes gala, the kickoff to the awards and red-carpet season, has put the issue of the Oscars, which are to be broadcast Feb. 24 on ABC, squarely on the table.
Millions of dollars in marketing and advertising — for fashion and accessories houses, as well as studios, television, advertisers, stylists and, of course, movie stars and filmmakers — are at stake.
“It is a great shame the event was canceled at the last minute, as we have been working on some great dresses with some of our clients,” designer Alice Temperley said of the Globes. “However, we hope the dispute gets resolved in time for the other events — and, of course, for the Oscars. It would be a real upset to miss the whole excitement of awards season. We also have secured a brilliant location for our Oscar party this year and hope to be able to go through with our plans.”
Vanessa Seward, the designer at Azzaro, which last year dressed Kate Winslet for the Globes, said the cancellation was “very disappointing. For us, these types of events are very important because as a house we are specialized in red-carpet dresses. People in the United States really know us because of [these events].”
Scuttling the Academy Awards would cost the Los Angeles economy alone an estimated $130 million, said Jack Keyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. The cancellation of the Globes, which are being scaled down to a news conference to be broadcast by NBC on Sunday when winners will be announced, means a loss of $80 million, he said.
Even as concern mounted, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spokeswoman Leslie Unger said Tuesday that planning for the Oscars was proceeding. “We are…not doing anything differently than we normally would,” she said.
This story first appeared in the January 9, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Charles Finch, chief executive at Finch & Partners, an international media company representing several Globes-bound actors and writers, said, “The most affected are not the powerful luxury brands, many of whom are my clients and who can create events and sponsor a myriad of opportunities for dressing. Rather, it’s the small and up-and-coming designers who face the barrier of entry to the Academy Awards who are hurt by this, as the Globes gives them easier access.
“However, there is some fallout for the big brands: Some major stars have the Globes written into their contracts with design houses but have left the Academy Awards open so that they can choose at the last minute a designer they like. This means major brands will have to struggle that much more for an Academy Award commitment and it will be much more competitive.”
At Chanel, the house downplayed the importance of the Golden Globes as a single event.
“This is the first time this has happened, so it’s all very new,” said a spokeswoman, who confirmed that Keira Knightley and Marion Cotillard were among actresses the house had expected to dress for the event. “Five or six years ago, I think [the prospect of the Golden Globes being canceled] would possibly have been a big disappointment, but today, there are so many happenings going on throughout the year that there’s always something else to be concentrating on,” she said. “Even if we love [the Golden Globes and the Oscars], we don’t really focus on them more than any other event.”
Several houses have public relations teams already in town for stylists appointments and celebrity fittings, although some had time to cancel their flights. Representatives for Michael Kors and Matthew Williamson are already here, and stylists are planning to attend appointments.
“To tell you the truth, I am relieved, and I think a lot of designers are, as well,” said stylist Jessica Paster, who noted that the stylists who will suffer the most are those who bank on awards season dressing. “Now it can be about seeing the beautiful clothes and thinking about other events. I do a lot of advertising jobs, so it’s not really affecting me, and anyway, we know how frugal studios and celebrities are. Trust me, I don’t make a lot of money off of celebrity dressing. I feel sorry most for the actors…and for the writers, because this is really about them and their future.”
Paster said she also sympathized with the fashion companies that were preparing gift suites to show stylists and celebrities their wares. Many of these were already under way when the Globes cancellation came late Monday. Some suite organizers, such as Glamour magazine, chose to move their dates back a few weeks to coincide with the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 27, which will proceed as planned because of an interim agreement granted by the Writers Guild. Others are carrying on, saying there is no reason celebrities (and all other manner of hangers-on) shouldn’t be gifted, and that stylists will need to see gowns and jewels for upcoming events.
Britt Johnson, whose company, mediaplacement, organized suites at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills for nominated talent at the Globes, said, “Most of our sponsors such as L’Oréal were also Golden Globes sponsors, so we are working on redirecting our efforts towards other events such as the SAG Awards or the upcoming Art of Elysium event on Saturday. I support anyone who’s going forward with their suites because this is a competitive industry and we’re talking about our local economy and people need to do anything they can to salvage their investments.”
Johnson said that one vendor had worked an entire year to redesign its logo for the Globes and had also planned a party, both of which “went up in smoke yesterday.” Although many have said the writing was on the wall last month that there would be no Globes show, Johnson said he remained hopeful based on information from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and that the cancellation did come as a surprise.
“I hope they come up with another solution before the Oscars,” Johnson said.
For now, it looks like the SAG Awards are set to become the focus for fashion houses and red-carpet watchers. The Independent Spirit Awards, on the eve of the Oscars, will go on, but that is by nature a dressed-down event.
As far as a dress code, the Critic’s Choice Awards that proceeded as planned Monday night because neither its production company nor VH1, which broadcast the show, were struck companies, indicated celebrities have no qualms about glamming it up for picket-free events.
Starlet Brittany Snow, whose film “Hairspray” was nominated for a Golden Globe and a SAG award, said, “Getting to go to the Golden Globes just would have been the best, but we understand that it’s not necessarily about getting an award.” Her co-star, Amanda Bynes, when asked if the strike would change the way she dresses for the SAG, issued an emphatic: “Nooo!”
“A lot of our Globes fittings were canceled and are being rescheduled closer to SAG,” said one VIP dresser for a major fashion house with a Rodeo Drive boutique who declined to be identified. “I think the focus now is on SAG, and hopefully the Oscars.”
As for how the magazine world will fare without a Globes blowout, In Style managing editor Charla Lawhon said, “In the past, In Style produced Golden Globes coverage on deadline. With the change in the format of the Globes, and the cancellation of the ceremony and after parties, we will use our pages for different stories — some pages might include red-carpet reporting from other award events. Instyle.com will cover the results of the HFPA announcements with photo galleries of the category winners. Awards season is a huge draw for our audience.”
In Style publisher Lynette Harrison Brubaker added, “The change in this year’s Globes format has not caused any advertisers to migrate out of our March issue. While the Globes coverage has always been extremely popular, March is also our core spring fashion issue, making it very significant overall to both advertisers and readers.”
For weeklies that subsist on celeb fodder, it seems that the bumper crop of non-awards-related stories (Britney, Brangelina, etc.) is taking up the slack for downsized awards coverage. Dan Wakeford, editor of Life & Style and In Touch, said of this year’s Globes coverage: “It’s going to be a back of the book thing, because it won’t have the visual presence” that an awards show usually has. “But awards ceremonies don’t make celebrity magazine covers. In recent years, hardly any magazine put an awards ceremony for the sake of it on its front cover. It may get the bottom of a cover, but it wouldn’t be a full cover for some magazine. It would be a 10-page package inside the magazine. But for this year’s Globes, it’s going to be a half a page spread instead of a 10-page spread.”
As this year’s awards “It” girl Ellen Page of “Juno” put it: “My take is worse things in the world have happened and it is what is.”
— With contributions from Anne Riley-Katz, Los Angeles; Samantha Conti and Lucie Greene, London; Jenny Sundel and Robert Murphy, Paris, and Stephanie D. Smith, New York