Dispatch January 2010

Making Sense of the Golden Globes

Movie producer Lynda Obst reports on this year's A-list Golden Globe parties, and offers the inside track on what the main event's latest trends portend for the future of the industry.

Golden Globe weekend in Hollywood commences the awards season, so the stars, dresses, publicists and paparazzi come out Friday night and stay out until Sunday afternoon, by which time the nominees and presenters are either sitting in their chairs or slipping out the back to the comfort of their bedrooms where the rest of us are.

This is an age-old tradition, and over the past 20 years, the Creative Artists Agency has ruled Friday night with its party at the Buffalo Club. In the past few years, hosting duties have been passed down from CAA’s second generation leaders Kevin Huvane and Bryan Lourd to third generation party host Josh Lieberman, who I hear has tried to keep the list exclusive. I don’t know what exclusive means in Hollywood, but judging by the amazing press of human flesh at Friday’s party, I’m guessing that it means the exclusion of: a) agents from other agencies b) clients of other agencies, unless they’re nominated movie stars c) TV people d) football players preparing for this weekend’s games e) relief workers in Haiti. We were drinking different kinds of Don Julio tequila, the very fancy brand that had sponsored the party, and which, as the bartender explained as he poured, was supposed to taste like bourbon—which may or may not have accounted for the very happy mood among the hustling young crowd.

As a small, aging person, circumnavigating this crush takes a skill I don’t possess: it calls for subtle martial arts moves involving the legs and shoulders that I’ve seen successfully performed by Koreans and Israelis at airport baggage claims, and by Hollywood agents in lines anywhere. Young blondes on the make are also quite good at it, as I learned on Friday.

Dotted within the clusterf*** were production chiefs, producers, and some stars—as in Jen Aniston, Kate H (working Harvey W), all of whom came early and left early, and Jake Gyllenhaal, who was planted all evening with his manager. Managers—the new agents (a rich topic which I plan to explore in a future piece)—clogged the party, the agents working them to keep tight hold on their clients, as these days the managers have a habit of moving the stars from agency to agency, adding to the tension which permeates all the gladness.

The Globes are historically interesting for two principle reasons: 1) their predictive/momentum-giving power, and 2) the equal time they give to TV, even though the televisionpeople famously have to sit upstairs in the Beverly Hilton’s literal second tier, and there’s barely enough airtime for them to even make jokes about it anymore.

Increasingly, the TV and movie industries are blurring together. Their executives are commutative: the head of Disney Channel just took over Walt Disney studios, where many studio heads have been grown; Grey Gardens, which won best TV movie, stars movie veterans Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore; Laura Linney is starring in a new cable TV series – a venue where women movie stars over 40 now go to thrive; moviepeople are making TV; and TV stars, like Blake Lively of CW’s Gossip Girl, are making movies. Lively, in fact, is the movie business’s newest “it” girl, and a client of CAA party host Josh Lieberman. In some weird way, the Globes anticipated this mish-mash.

Presented by

Lynda Obst is a producer and writer. Her most recent movie is The Invention of Lying, starring Ricky Gervais. (As Gervais helpfully mentioned during last night’s ceremonies, the DVD goes on sale today…) Obst’s book, Hello, He Lied, was published in 1996. Beginning in February, she will blog regularly for The Atlantic.com about Hollywood and the movie industry. More

Lynda Obst was recruited to Hollywood from the New York Times Magazine in 1979 by Peter Guber, for whom she developed Flashdance and Clue, as well as beginning the development of Carl Sagan’s Contact. In 1985, Obst partnered with producer Debra Hill, forming Hill/Obst Productions at Paramount Pictures. They soon made the iconic teen pic Adventures in Babysitting. Then the duo produced Terry Gilliam’s Oscar-nominated The Fisher King, starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges.

Obst then began a solo-producing career, where she produced Nora Ephron’s directing debut, This Is My Life, and executive produced Ephron’s second film, Sleepless in Seattle. Obst then produced The Siege, Hope Floats, One Fine Day, and Someone Like You. One of Obst’s earlier projects came full circle when she came on Contact for Warner Bros. in 1997, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Jodie Foster. In 1999, she executive produced NBC’s Emmy Nominated, two-part miniseries The 60s. Then Lynda moved back to Paramount Pictures, where she produced such films as How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Abandon.

Obst’s most recent film was the September Warner Bros. release of Ricky Gervais/Matthew Robinson's directorial debut The Invention of Lying, starring Gervais and Jennifer Garner. Her notable upcoming projects include Steven Spielberg’s Interstellar, a sci-fi feature from The Dark Knight scribe Jonathan Nolan, based on a story by Obst, Nolan, and Dr. Kip Thorne; What Was I Thinking, starring Leslie Mann, Elizabeth Banks & Jennifer Garner; and Getting Rid of Matthew, starring Jennifer Aniston.

She has long written about the movie business for magazines and blogs, including a long running Oscar dialogue with New York Magazine critic David Edelstein.

Lynda Obst’s magazine writing, as well as more information on her films, can be found on her website: visit http://lyndaobstproductions.com/.

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