LOS ANGELES (AP) – A big selling point for the Golden Globes is that you never know what those wacky stars might do or say after they’ve tipped a few during the laid-back, dinner-style awards show.

Jack Nicholson waved his rear at the audience after winning for “As Good As It Gets.” Taking home two trophies for “The Rose,” bosomy Bette Midler borrowed a line from Joan Crawford and told the crowd: “I’ll show you a pair of Golden Globes.” A TV winner for “Don King: Only in America,” Ving Rhames dragged fellow nominee Jack Lemmon up on stage and gave him the Globe he had just won.

The Globe party – which lets TV viewers share in the anything-goes celebration of Hollywood’s elite on the long buildup to the more dry and dignified Academy Awards – is gone this year, canceled because of the screenwriters’ strike.

“I think if there was going to be one show that’s canceled, it’s a shame it was that one, because it’s so much fun. That’s a big bummer,” said Mary-Louise Parker, a two-time Globe winner for “Angels in America” and “Weeds,” the latter earning her another nomination this time for best actress in a TV musical or comedy.

In place of tonight’s Globes is something much drier – though thankfully, much shorter – than the Oscars: an hourlong news conference to show movie and TV clips and announce winners, without a star in sight.

“Not only without stars, but without drunk stars,” said Tom O’Neil, a columnist for the awards Web magazine The Envelop. “The producers are going to be truly challenged to turn that into a compelling hour of TV.”

On strike against film and TV producers since Nov. 5, the Writers Guild of America put the Globes on ice by refusing to let its members work on the show. Writers made it clear they would have picket lines outside if Globe organizers tried to go ahead with the televised ceremony on NBC, and nominees and other celebrities promised to boycott the show in solidarity.

On Friday, the writers announced they would not picket Sunday’s Globes news conference after the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which presents the awards, changed the abbreviated affair from an exclusive NBC broadcast to an event open to all media.

The broadcast will now feature TV entertainment show anchors from various outlets announcing the awards in 25 categories.

Though a lively TV diversion and nice get-together for the stars, the Golden Globes often are maligned in Hollywood for their history of weirdly undeserving winners and for the small number of people who vote on the awards – about 85 journalists, many of them part-timers covering film and TV for overseas outlets.

Still, the Globes have become a major tradition during Hollywood’s film-awards season, second in importance only to the Oscars, whose winners are chosen by about 6,000 actors, directors, writers and other professionals.

The epic tragic romance “Atonement” leads this year’s Globes with seven nominations, including best drama and lead-acting honors for Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.

Other nominees include Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton for the bloody musical “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”; George Clooney, Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson for the legal drama “Michael Clayton”; Cate Blanchett for both the historical pageant “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” and the Bob Dylan tale “I’m Not There”; Denzel Washington for the crime story “American Gangster”; and Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman for the foreign-policy romp “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

While most nominees are old hands, many already having won Oscars and Globes, the strike hits hard at newcomers such as Marion Cotillard of the Edith Piaf saga “La Vie En Rose,” Ellen Page of the teen-pregnancy comedy “Juno” and Nikki Blonsky of the dance musical “Hairspray” – nominees for best actress in a musical or comedy.

“I would have loved to have been there, but whatever happens, happens. My grandmother always taught me that what’s meant to be is what’s meant to be,” Blonsky said.

The cancellation of the Globes heightened Hollywood’s fears that the Oscars could suffer the same fate. Patric M. Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West, said the union would not agree to let members write the Oscar show, which could leave nominees with the choice of crossing picket lines to attend or staying home.

Gil Cates, producer of the Oscar telecast scheduled for Feb. 24 on ABC, said the ceremony will go on as planned, whether or not the guild lets writers work on it.

Some think the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will still be able to cut a deal with the guild to let the show come off as usual. If not, it would force nominees to decide between labor unity and the biggest prizes in show business.

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