Notwithstanding a moment of heightened exuberance when Julia
Roberts appears, the press line for the People's Choice Awards functions
like a well-ordered graduation ceremony. Then the final arrival, Garth
Brooks, bolts the red carpet and tries to hurry inside before the show
Determined journalists leave their posts in pursuit, the line
disintegrating in their wake.
With the arrivals coverage completed and the telecast underway, media
director Sheri Goldberg takes a pause, for one breath, before phase two
begins backstage. That's where announced winners start filtering in to
face cameras and press queries. Goldberg has handled publicity for the
People's Choice Awards, either on her own or with a PR agency, for six
years. She told me this year's event was among the most successful, and
demanding, due to heightened security procedures.
"We had to cut the press line in half this year, forcing us to exclude
many of the European outlets that are normally invited," says
"Photographers weren't permitted to line the street as in years past, so
we only accredited as many as could be reasonably situated along the red
carpet. It caused some dissension, but it was a necessary measure."
Journalists had to display driver's licenses along with press
(Some of us were caught squinting at birth dates.) Stickers were given
out on-site allowing admission to restricted areas, such as the
Last minute RSVPs, such as attempted by one local TV station, were
No accreditation? No admittance, no exceptions.
Seated in one of the three backstage pressrooms, I'm unable to come up
with any clever questions, just astute observations: "Damn, that trophy
sure looks heavy." (It is.) "These brownies are great, especially the
ones with nuts." During his Q&A, Kelsey Grammar makes a humorous aside
about the front-row journalist engaged in an intrusive cellphone
I want to shout, "Hear, hear!" but I'm munching a brownie. My third.
Julia seems a bit edgy, despite her directive that we must all be nice
to each other.
Using star power and an effective advance campaign, Goldberg's staff
garnered terrific publicity for the show, evidenced by a four-point
ratings boost. Entertainment Tonight did daily stories starting a week
prior, and aired follow-up reports the following Monday and Tuesday. E!
did a two-hour pre-show, which received stellar ratings among the key
18-49 female demographic. Online sites tallying viewer votes registered
high numbers during the telecast.
Unlike last week's Golden Globes, which are selected by fewer than 100
foreign journalists, or the Oscars, which are determined by a secret
society of Freemasons and the Farm Bureau, the People's Choice Awards
are chosen by you and me. Not "The Man." Perhaps this explains why Jason
Alexander was a nominee for Favorite Male Performer in a New Television
Series, even though his show had tanked. That's what happens when
important decisions like this are left up to people like you and me.