All this week, the 2,500 people working the event — from caterers and valets to the 800 media personnel covering the awards show — submitted fingerprints, driver’s license or passport numbers, their mother’s maiden names and social security details to the bureau, which conducted the background checks.
“We wanted to make sure all the celebrities and media attending the event have a sense of security,” said Steve LoCascio, a publicist for the Golden Globes.
Limousine-arriving VIPs and hotel guests will be allowed to use the hotel parking garage — once they have been thoroughly inspected inside, outside and underneath at a checkpoint nearby the hotel (organizers were reluctant to reveal exactly where that was, although they admitted it would be obvious Sunday).
Show security has been expanded and augmented with the Beverly Hills Police and FBI — many who will appear in dress attire, not uniformed. A no-fly zone is in effect that day over the hotel.
With red carpet coverage a ratings winner, the media is following the rules.
“He’s fingerprinted, he’s laminated, he’s got his Hollywood Foreign Press standard-issue, Haz-Mat suit,” said Todd Gold, West Coast bureau chief for US Weekly, about his Globe-bound reporter.
“It’s certainly unprecedented at any awards show,” observed Theresa Coffino, executive producer of “Extra.” It’s made things more complicated, but it’s all for the best. With all the extra security, I’m sure we’ll have some mention of it on the show Monday.”
Gold concurred: “I suppose there are genuine concerns to protect all these people at a live television event. I just don’t know that anyone felt any safer at last week’s Critics’ Choice Awards when Sissy Spacek or Russell Crowe went through a metal detector.”
Not surprisingly, a double standard exists with regard to celebrities or guests who are “known by members of the HFPA,” who were not asked to undergo background checks. But publicists, even those on a first-name basis with the HFPA, were not excluded.
“I’m just curious as to why I had to be fingerprinted for this show and not the Emmys, which was immediately following Sept. 11,” said Joe Libonati of ID PR in Los Angeles, who went through the process in order to be on hand with client Sela Ward on Sunday. “I think the whole thing is bizarre. It’s more psychological than anything. I mean, it’s about as effective as having the National Guard at the airport without guns.”
Libonati said he hasn’t “bothered” his client with the particulars. “But she knows that there are increased security measures.”
That’s relative. Security measures only cover the award show and end at 8 p.m. The hotel, for its part, has boosted its security program for the night. As of 7 a.m. Sunday, a lockdown goes into effect at the hotel, where guests can leave only by taxi or hotel car. The hotel, not the FBI, will run its own background check on guests.
For the after-parties held throughout the hotel, the hosting film and television studios are responsible. All the discrepancies leave some buzzing about a conspiracy theory or two. One is that all the fuss is just one more story linked to the Globes for the media to focus on. A serious journalist might not want to discuss a starlet’s dress, but the presence of black-tied FBI agents may warrant note on prime-time news.
Others point to the ongoing, behind-the-scenes battle between personal publicists and award show producers, including the Emmys (which apparently asked the former to limit their numbers at events).
Personal publicists walk the ruby path with their clients, steering them to — and away from — reporters and photographers. Show producers have apparently requested there be fewer publicists at events, according to one major player in town, who requested anonymity and said it “was impossible to adequately service several clients at once.”
In the case of the Globes, it became an issue of finger-pointing, said the source. “First the HFPA said it was Dick Clark Productions that didn’t want us running around the red carpet. Then, Dick Clark said it was the HFPA. Then they both said it was the FBI.”
The source added that recently some 10 major agencies in town decided by e-mail to give the HFPA an ultimatum: Either they get more credentials or they would take their “clients in through the back door because [the celebrities] didn’t feel comfortable being there without us.”
More credentials were authorized, although far fewer than previous shows. It still leaves publicists attending to multiple clients Sunday.