A Great Night at 'The Office'

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Home Box Office might have pulled in the most Golden Globe Awards, but BBC America is head over heels for the pair it won.

The network, now in some 38 million homes, netted Globes on Jan. 25 for best comedic television series for The Office, a biting spoof of the workplace, and for its star Ricky Gervais, who was named best actor for his portrayal of middle manager David Brent at Wernhamm Hogg, a fictional paper company located in a small town near London.

The Globes win for BBC America with the show it imported from the BBC followed similar acclaim across the Pond, where the series won four BAFTAs (the United Kingdom equivalent of the Emmy Awards) and a Silver Rose at the Montreux TV Festival.

BBC America CEO Paul Lee said the network "knew it had a once in a lifetime comedy on its hands, like Friends or Sex and the City. We just didn't know if it would be recognized [in the U.S.]. We are so happy."

Lee said BBC America also plans to mine the Globes wins over the next year with distribution partners.

"We think it will be a big help for cable operators driving digital. Instead of talking up packages of choices, they can now say they offer 'the best comedy in America,' " said Lee.

BBC America currently has deals with all major MSOs, minus Cablevision Systems Corp.

While the 12 original episodes of The Office's two seasons have run their course on BBC America, the series will certainly not go on the shelf. The network ran the first installment of the show's second season last Thursday at 10 p.m., and will roll out the remaining five in the weeks ahead.

The six-episode first season will then encore, beginning in April, according to Lee. A concluding film adaptation is set to air sometime around the 2004 holiday season, Lee said, noting that NBC has gained the rights for an Americanized series version of the show, which will not feature Gervais on screen. That program could air on the Peacock next fall.

In the meantime, Lee — who is also looking for increased ad sales bounty for the show emanating from the awards — said BBC America is running promos touting its Globe triumphs and has and will buy tune-in ads in trade and consumer magazines and newspapers, like The New York Times.

The Office's success notwithstanding, the big TV winner at the Globes was cable, which won in 9 of the 11 TV categories, led by HBO, which garnered seven statues.

The premium channel's six-hour adaptation about the AIDS epidemic, Angels in America, won a quintet of awards from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, including best miniseries.

HBO also scored another pair of Globes, as Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under, topping Joely Richardson from FX's Nip/Tuck, among others) and Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City) picked up the best actress roles in a drama and comedy series, respectively.

Meryl Streep and Al Pacino won best actress and best actor for their work in the Mike Nichols-directed adaptation of Tony Kushner's Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Angels. The best supporting wins went to Mary Louise Parker and Jeffrey Wright, also from the acclaimed miniseries.

BROADCAST WINS

The only TV categories where cable came up empty were best drama, won by Fox's 24, over Nip/Tuck, Six Feet Under, CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
and NBC's The West Wing; and best actor, drama series, where Anthony Lapaglia took the Globe for his performance in Black Rock's Without a Trace, beating out Michael Chiklis from FX's The Shield— who copped the Golden Globe for actor in 2003 — as well as Kiefer Sutherland for 24, William Petersen from CSI
and Martin Sheen from West Wing.

The strong performance by HBO — which had the most nominations of any network, with 20 — left rival Showtime in the lurch.

Viacom Inc.'s premium entry had multiple nominations in best movie/miniseries (Soldier's Girl and Tennessee Williams' The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone); miniseries and movie actresses (Judy Davis for The Reagans and Helen Mirren for Mrs. Stone) and best actor, movie/miniseries (James Brolin for The Reagans
and Troy Garity for Soldier's Girl).

USA Network also missed out, despite three nominations: comedy series for Monk; best actor in the genre for last year's winner, Tony Shalhoub, for his obsessive-compulsive turn as detective Adrian Monk; and Bitty Schramm, for best actress for the sleuth's assistant, Sharona Fleming.

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