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The people exerting the most important Canadian influence in Hollywood right now are Dagmar Dunlevy, André Guimond, Ray Arco and Noemia Young. Never heard of them? Don't worry, most of us in the Canadian media haven't either -- even though all four supposedly have submitted "four items of exemplary work" each to Canadian media outlets in the last 12 months to ensure their status as "active members" of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Whatever the quantity or quality of that work, it's the quartet's status as the only Canucks among the 91 active members of the 2005-06 HFPA that accounts for their Hollywood heft. This is because every year at this time the HFPA, which was founded 60-odd years ago, gets the world geared up for its Golden Globes ceremony.

A decade ago the Globes were considered just another tacky awards whoop-up. Now they're second only to the Oscars as the gold standard of Hollywood achievement. Last year, the Globes' NBC broadcast attracted an audience of 27 million Americans, just 6 million shy of what the Oscar telecast got in 2003. Indeed, the Globes -- both the short list (the 2005 edition of which was announced this week) and the actual awards (to be handed out Jan. 16) -- are regarded as a kind of Coles Notes for the Oscars, harbingers of the way the 6,000-plus members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will cast their all-important ballots.

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Of course, almost all movie awards are suspect, glam or no. I mean, Braveheart really wasn't the best film of 1995, was it? But the Golden Globes always have seemed the most suspect, perhaps because only 30 or 35 of the HFPA members are real working foreign journalists, and even here we're not talking Cahiers du Cinéma, let alone the Prince Albert Daily Herald: The biggest claim to Canadian fame for Dunlevy, who's been with the HFPA for more than 20 years, including two terms as president, seems to be the Dagmar in Hollywood Q&A feature she writes for Flare magazine.

Some other members seem to freelance infrequently -- I managed to locate an article on Bruce Willis by Guimond in a 1998 issue of the Winnipeg Free Press -- and, as Sharon Waxman reported three years ago in The Washington Post, "a large number make their living at other professions, including teaching, real estate, car sales and film promotion." One past president even owned a dress shop in Los Angeles. The rising fortunes of the Golden Globes are a reflection of an anxiety-prone, fiercely competitive, ultra-expensive industry that doesn't seem to care who's giving out the prizes, just that there are prizes being given and the donors have a nice name.The financial health of Atom Egoyan's movie, Where the Truth Lies, now rests in the hands of European cinéastes, rep-house and TV programmers, and the DVD/VHS market.

The controversial noirish thriller recently wrapped its inaugural run in commercial theatres across North America, grossing $587,539 in Canada and a just over $1-million in America, where it was released in mid-October as an "unrated" feature after its distributor failed to overturn an R mark given earlier by the Motion Picture Association.

Since the movie, which had its world premiere more than seven months ago at the Cannes festival, reportedly cost about $29-million to make, it would seem it has many rivers to cross before it earns out. Truth recently opened in Great Britain on 45 screens, where it's earned more than $470,000. A German showcase is set for February. For the first time in its half-century history, the Canadian edition of TV Guide is publishing a double issue. Dated Dec. 24-Jan. 6, it's on newsstands Monday with a cover price of $1.99 -- 50 cents less than what's usually charged.

Editor Jaimie Hubbard is using the occasion to debut a new look for the mag. Since TV Guide has a circulation of more than 300,000 here, he's calling the revamp -- which features a cover story on what the cast of Desperate Housewives is doing for Christmas in their real lives -- "the biggest testing-group session in the country."

TV Guide's last big change look-wise occurred in 2004 when its publisher scrapped the mag's long-running digest format for a trim size similar to that of a comic book.

The big switcheroo this time is in the listings: They're going to be completely in colour; they're going to contain more pictures -- and instead of detailing what's on every half-hour or hour, "we're focusing on highlights more," says Hubbard. As a result, the lists are going to be organized not by time but by category -- or, more precisely, by six different categories: lifestyle, home and food, news and documentaries, life and reality, comedy, and drama.

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