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Award nominations can be gold for new series
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In case its viewers weren't glued to their TV sets as the Golden Globe nominations were announced in the early morning on the Today show last week, NBC reminded them in prime time that night. It introduced a rerun of My Name Is Earl as a Golden Globe-nominated show.

Nominations and awards mean publicity, of course, and the top nod-catchers let the world know it. ABC dominated the best TV drama category with three of the five nominations and earned five nods for comedy Desperate Housewives (Eva Longoria wasn't snubbed this year). The network immediately went to work crafting animated graphics to pop up during its Globe-nominated series.

The Globes, doled out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), kick off Hollywood's award season and can help create buzz in the industry— including among Emmy voters—about programs that might have otherwise been overlooked. Three of the five dramas nominated this year are rookies (Commander in Chief, Prison Break and Rome), so the hype for them will be valuable. The Globes nominators tend to recognize relative newcomers. Last year, they chose rookie Desperate Housewives as the best comedy. (Emmy picked Everybody Loves Raymond following its farewell season.)

“It always helps to refer to a show as a Golden Globe show; it puts a stamp on something,” says Jenny Cooney Carrillo, the Los Angeles correspondent for TV publications in Australia and New Zealand and a voting member of the HFPA for 18 years. She points out that the nomination for Fox's Prison Break will raise awareness in Australia, where the show starts soon.

“We don't have any politics or agenda except, if we like it, we vote for it,” she says. “Once we've acknowledged something, we're very quick to move on and look for something else to acknowledge.”

UPN earned its first acknowledgement (make that nomination) for Everybody Hates Chris, the Chris Rock comedy that garnered early praise from critics and was subsequently subjected to scrutiny over whether the post-pilot episodes would live up to the hype. (Chris caught some unfortunate grief because UPN and Paramount TV sent Globe voters DVD players. Studios in the past have sent far more lavish gifts. HFPA rules now say members can get only gifts also sent to domestic scribes and the items can't be worth more than $100, says an HFPA spokesperson. A UPN representative says the network followed the rules it was given.)

However it happened, Chris got the nod, and that's “a lot harder for us because we're a smaller network and it's been a big boat to turn around and have the network be known for quality shows,” says UPN President Dawn Ostroff. “Typically, people didn't think about quality and UPN in the same sentence, and now we're hopefully changing the perception of the network.”

For cable networks, Globe nominations are important in distinguishing their original programming. TNT, for example, already set ratings records this summer with its original drama The Closer. Now that its star, Kyra Sedgwick, has picked up a nod for best actress, the network will replay the series' first season beginning Dec. 27.

Showtime announced a second season of its suburban marijuana comedy Weeds hours after the series picked up three nominations. Those kudos, as well as a nod for its terrorism miniseries Sleeper Cell, could help Showtime distance itself in viewers' minds from being “that other pay-cable network.” But, in fact, HBO earned the most nominations of any TV network, with 17.

“It's just harder and harder to break anything through, and awards and recognition help you do that,” says Bob Greenblatt, president of entertainment for Showtime. “For us and our little pay service, it can bring a lot of recognition to some really good work. It just reinforces that we have shows that are as good as anyone on any network.”

At a time when hundreds of awards ceremonies crowd the air (with ratings that are slipping), producers of the Globes are working to make the show stand out. By last Thursday, producers at Dick Clark Productions were meeting to plan interesting combinations of presenters and lay out where they will station cameras for the Jan. 16 telecast on NBC.

Says Barry Adelman, an executive producer of the awards show: “I call it the Hollywood senior prom because it's the kind of event everyone wants to go to.”

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