By the beginning of 2008, the Writers Guild of America had been on strike for two months, halting productions throughout Hollywood. When the WGA announced that it would picket the Golden Globes, it became apparent that actors would not cross the picket line.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which gives out the awards, decided to replace the ceremony with a press conference at the Beverly Hilton and have entertainment news personalities such as Mary Hart, Jim Moret and Brooke Anderson announce the winners. E! and TV Guide Network carried the event live, but NBC--which traditionally airs the Globes-- balked, and produced its own winners special, hosted by Access Hollywood anchors Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell (who is now at Entertainment Tonight).
Here's what some of the players from that time remember about the year the Golden Globes lost its glitz.
Rob Silverstein (executive producer, Access Hollywood): Up until the last minute we didn't really know if we were going to do a show. We were originally doing this show with the Globes' permission. NBC was heavily involved. Then, at the last minute [the HFPA] decided to do a different kind of show. So there were two different shows going on. There was our show, hosted by Billy and Nancy O'Dell, and then there was some other show that the Hollywood Foreign Press was putting on. They had different entertainment reporters come in, and I said, I don't want to be a part of that. We don't ever put our people with them. We're way smarter than them. We know way more than the host of those other shows. I know that because they've all worked here at some point.
Anderson: It was such a time of uncertainty because the writers' strike had lasted more than two months already at that point and no one knew when an agreement would be reached. There was so much at stake and so many jobs hung in the balance. Writers were holding out for what they knew they deserved and were entitled to, but how long could they fight? It was a sacrifice by so many people who were not getting a paycheck during that time. There was a somber vibe because of it.
Moret: We got a call [about the press conference] a day or two before. It was, "This may be necessary, would you help us out?" I remember the distinct feeling that this was a horrible disaster. Not only for the HFPA but for all the people who were nominated and for all of the people who work in this business. The actors said they would not cross the line, and you need to respect that too. They did something that hurt themselves in support of the writers. For anyone who won that night, they were cheated out of that moment that you wait for your whole career. So I tried to be respectful and excited for them.
Bush: Oh my God, I hosted the Golden Globes! I remember that the production cost of the show was exactly $1,000. That was Nancy's dress. It was alternately exciting and embarrassing. You know that's not what people wanted to see. The most fun awards show in the world is the Golden Globes. Stars are wasted, they're cavorting with each other. And then all of a sudden it's me and Nancy at a podium reading names.
Anderson: The recipients weren't even there to revel in the glory of their win or deliver an acceptance speech. I was chatting with Jeremy Piven last week about his Globes win that year, and he joked that the trophy was later given to him in his driveway and that the only person who knows he won that year is his mom.
Bush: I remember later running into Jon Hamm, who won that year. I could tell he would have loved to be there in the moment. But sadly he had to hear it from me.
Silverstein: I had somebody watching the press conference, getting me the information, and then we announced it. We were sitting there hoping they announce something. They could have, in theory, screwed us. We were about a minute behind them. You were doing that on the fly, on a live show, on the network. It was very tense in the control room.
Moret: The end was anticlimactic. We just walked out. No hoopla. I said goodbye to my colleagues, and it was still early. I remember walking to my car and it didn't have any of the pomp and circumstance or excitement. I think the writers felt that they had won. Their point was made, there was solidarity among the actors in support of them and I don't think anyone had a problem with the winners being announced. We were Switzerland. We were the neutral party of reporters and anchors who were called to read the results. We were mindful that the strike caused a lot of pain, angst, and [cost people] money.
Silverstein: There are some things I would do differently, but I think we did the best we could do for what was going on. I've done a lot of live television. But I think my heart might have been racing a bit more in that one than in others.
Bush: I don't know if I should ever watch that back. I'm terrified at what I would see. Luckily we were just getting information in our ears, but what if there had been a delay at the press conference? What if something had happened at the press conference and they had to take a break for five minutes? Nightmare. Writers--don't ever strike again, please. And if you do, I'm coming down with the flu.