EXCLUSIVE: With last night’s Broadcast Television Journalists Association’s 4th Annual Critics Choice Television Awards now out of the way, and Emmy ballots due by 10 tonight, there is lots of news on the TV awards front. But I have learned there also is news on the nascent movie awards season that could mean a radical shake up for the BFJA’s kissing cousins’ Critics Choice Movie Awards.
A meeting will be held today to discuss moving the CCMAs up in the season by as much as a month to mid-December. Yikes! (Full Disclosure: I vote in those awards). For the last two years they have been held on Oscar nomination day (January 17th earlier this year), drawing a big star-and-industry turnout as well as lots of attention due to the fact that newly minted Oscar nominees hit the CCMA red carpet just hours after getting the big news. But I am told BFCA officials are frustrated by the forced proximity not only to the higher profile Golden Globes show on NBC, but also the glut of other pre-Oscar events and guild nomination announcements. Also factoring in is a new broadcast partner as The CW, which has carried the show for the past two years (after previous stints with VH1 and E) is no longer going to be involved. Last night’s TV awards was also the first — and apparently last — broadcast for that show as well on The CW. The BFCA/BFJA (same group of execs) has yet to announce its new broadcast outlet, but I am told it’s a done deal and that A&E networks will be the new partner. This could lead to the show being seen on multiple platforms in a model much like AFI’s deal for the AFI Life Achievement Award gala that is seen on both TNT and sister TCM.
But a move to mid-December — at the height of the glut of Christmas releases, the Globes announcing its nominees and the town starting to shut down for the holidays — is fraught with peril. Several top studio awards consultants (all of whom were cold to the idea) told me it could definitely impact nominee attendance, as they are more likely to be scattered all over the place, unlike January when publicists and consultants who arrange these things are more prepared to launch them through the awards gauntlet.
It would also mean voting for nominees earlier, although I am told the plan would be moving up the nominee announcement by a week to early December — meaning voting would likely have to take place over Thanksgiving. That could impact the 250-member group’s (the largest critics’ organization) ability to see some contenders with late-in-the-year release dates or December junkets. And it would compress from five to two the amount of time for studios to exploit the nominations, another impact on their value. Right now, the National Board Of Review and the New York Film Critics (both much smaller than the national BFCA and concentrated in media center NYC, where it’s easier to see the films) jockey to announce their winners first in that same early December corridor, while hold their actual awards ceremonies in January during that “super awards” period the CCMA’s is trying to avoid. Last year, for instance, Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street would have been out in the cold as it didn’t even have its first screening until early December (even a large number of SAG nominating committee voters missed that one). Paramount was also unable to send BFCA members screeners, another area that could be severely impacted for BFCA members , many spread out over the country and relying on those screeners. Django Unchained ran into the same problem the year before. This year’s Christmas Day releases such as Paddington, Untitled Cameron Crowe Film, Into The Woods and the much anticipated Angelina Jolie-directed Unbroken could possibly be impacted if the plan were to be adopted (the latter’s junket is not until Dec 2-4) .
The Critics Choice Movie Awards has had a strong track record of predicting Oscar winners. For the 2013 season they had a near-perfect score, with only the categories of Foreign Language Film and Makeup failing to match the future Oscar winners in the 21 categories they share. A big winner in all of this could be the Hollywood Film Awards. The brainchild of Carlos de Abreu has been held for years around October 25th and never televised. This year CBS bought the show and Dick Clark Productions (which also does the Globes) is producing. The network has yet to announce the date but I am reliably told it will air live on Friday November 14th. In the past winners are negotiated with the studio and required to show up. How its format will change is unknown, but seeing the films or rough cuts isn’t a major problem since it is just a handful of people at best who decide. It’s seen as a launch to the season and will be even higher profile this year now that it has a major broadcast network behind it.
As for last night’s Critics Choice Television Awards, it was smartly produced and breezy, with good attendance by nominees and the big winners including Netflix’s comedy series champ, Orange Is The New Black, Drama Series winner Breaking Bad, HBO’s movie winner The Normal Heart and FX (biggest network winner overall) with its miniseries champ Fargo. Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor in a Drama Series and was there to accept, as were other big acting winners such as Jim Parsons, Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Billy Bob Thornton for Fargo and Allison Janney — who not only took two trophies for her guest role in Showtime’s Masters Of Sex and supporting role in a comedy series for Mom, but also had the best — and raunchiest – acceptance speech. Give her an Emmy so we can see more where that came from! And don’t forget Emmy voters you have only until 10 tonight Pacific time to get that online balloting done.