Despite competition from big baseball and football games and the final Presidential debate, the 16th annual Hollywood Film Awards gala last night featured a nice starry turnout — especially considering all those stars were able to go onstage and accept an award for themselves. That always helps, doesn’t it?

As the ballroom announcer intoned, this event marks “the beginning of Hollywood’s awards season”. Well, actually it marks the beginning of the awards-season chicken dinner circuit for the Beverly Hilton. But  give ’em an award this early in the game and they will come. It’s a way for awards strategists to get their hoped-for Oscar contenders in the winner’s circle right off the bat. These are negotiated honors, and Hollywood Awards co-founder (with wife Janice Pennington) and executive director Carlos de Abreu is the guy who decides who gets the “gold” (although he has a board that supposedly has input).

De Abreu, not unlike some other awards organizations, insists that in order to receive a Hollywood Film Award, recipients must be there in person to accept. He won’t even allow live satellite acceptances, the thinking being that it would open a can of worms, and strategists would try to find a way to get the award without delivering talent directly to the ceremony. It’s a formula that delivers an impressive turnout and it gets participation due to the early date, with many of the winners hailing from movies that haven’t been released. No one takes it seriously, but it serves its purpose as far as the studios are concerned. As Seth Rogen said in his hilarious intro for Comedy Award winner Judd Apatow: “Perhaps the most annoying thing is none of these movies have come out yet. I haven’t even heard of some of these movies. (Screenwriter winner) Quentin (Tarantino) is still shooting! Who voted for these things?” (more…)