Glut of Award Shows Growing Worse

Another day, another awards show: That's the way it seems to go in Hollywood, and don't expect it to change.

If you bothered to count them, there were 564 different entertainment industry awards shows last year alone. If you remember a day when it wasn't that way, you're not alone. Frequent Oscar host Billy Crystal remembers it, too.

"The big ones were the Emmys and the Oscars and the Grammys," Crystal says. "And that was it. Now … there's just too many of them."

Sure, Hollywood loves to feel good about itself. There's nothing like a little golden statuette on the mantelpiece to burnish a fragile ego. But there's more at stake. Televised award shows make money. The stars come out for free, and that makes these extravaganzas cheap to produce.

Globes, Once a Joke, Now Golden

About 25 million viewers tuned in for the Golden Globe Awards show on Jan. 20, making it the fifth most-watched show that week, ahead of such high-rated shows as Law and Order, Everybody Loves Raymond, Will & Grace and The West Wing.

Only a few years ago, the Golden Globes barely got any attention at all. The awards are chosen by roughly 90 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, making it a rather small polling. More than 4,200 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences vote in the Oscars.

The Globes hit a low point in 1982, when actress Pia Zadora was honored for the soft-core bomb Butterfly. That prompted network television to drop the awards show for many years.

But the HFPA has proved it can bring out the stars. That brings out the viewers and the advertisers.

Even spotlight-shunning stars find themselves sucked into festivities to plug their work. Director Ron Howard was elated with his Golden Globe victory for A Beautiful Mind. "This sort of award acknowledgement helps," he says. "[We can] remind people that we're there and urge people to go see our film."

And there are a lot of opportunities for these reminders.

"Every week, between December and April, every year, there's now at least one awards show on prime-time television," says Tom O'Neil of Goldderby.com, a Web site that tracks 100 entertainment industry award shows.

Award fever really heats up at the end of February, in the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards on March 24. Look for the British Academy of Film and Television Awards on Feb. 24, the Grammy Awards on Feb. 27, the Writers Guild Awards on March 2, the Producer's Guild Awards on March 3, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards on March 10.

Of course, a complete list, including less-heralded awards, would be much longer.

And the Winner Is … Not Here

The glut is causing problems. What's so special if everybody's a winner? The first American Film Institute Awards ceremony, held in January, was instantly dubbed the "MIA awards" because 11 of the 17 winners didn't show up.

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, honored for their HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, were absent. Denzel Washington won best movie actor for Training Day and Samuel L. Jackson accepted the prize for him.

The event ended up a ratings disaster for CBS, attracting 6 million viewers — fewer than the number of people who watched a rerun of Demi Moore's box-office debacle G.I. Jane on ABC, which aired at the same time.

Still, the AFI is vowing to be back next year with another show, and it's a reasonable assumption that it will be broadcast. Award shows are not going away any time soon.

"The networks love them because they're cheap to produce," O'Neil says. "They get all that star power and they don't have to pay anybody."

And don't forget, trophy makers have families to feed. They can't derive all their money from bowling tournaments.

ABCNEWS Radio's Dave Alpert in Los Angeles and ABCNEWS.com's Buck Wolf in New York contributed to this report.

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