The Road To A Better Golden Globe
How one man made an Oklahoma town the unlikely capital of the awards statuette. Now, he's set his sights on Oscar.
The biggest stash of Golden Globes isn’t in Hollywood, but in a warehouse in a tiny town in the northeast corner of Oklahoma called Grove (population: 6,623).
Society Awards’ warehouse is at the end of a 50-foot hallway, the walls and ceiling of which are coated in a thick, vinyl, gold wallpaper. Gold chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and gold sconces line the walls.
This is all according Society Awards’ CEO David Mortiz; I’m taking his word for it. I’ve never been. Neither have the organizers of the Golden Globes, or any of the other shows for which Society Awards manufactures trophies. The hallway is there for those people, though, should they ever decide to visit the facility.
“Nobody ever, uh, comes there,” Mortiz says after describing the hallway. He is speaking on the phone from Society Awards headquarters in Queens, New York. “But just in case they do, it will be a really nice, um, hallway.”
It's touches like these that earned Society Awards the privilege of manufacturing the Golden Globe, the MTV Moon Man, the MTV Movie Award, the Clio, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and many, many other awards.
“We don’t yet make the Oscars — we hope to soon — but we make pretty much everything else,” Mortiz says. (Chicago-based R.S. Owens Company, which makes the Oscars statue as well as the Emmy, was acquired by Indianapolis-based St. Regis Crystal in November.)
Moritz, 31, was born in New Jersey but attended high school in Grove, before moving back to the tri-state area to attend NYU, then Cordoza Law School. He studied entertainment law, but shortly after graduating he got the idea of getting into the award manufacturing business in his head.
The companies that were manufacturing these awards lacked a certain gravitas that Mortiz, at least, thinks they should have.
“You would think that the company that makes the Moon Man or the Golden Globe is this amazing, awesome jewelry company,” Mortiz recalls thinking at the time. “But no, actually, it’s really just this kind of a boring shop and there is nothing interesting about it at all.”
He took it upon himself to change all that. “I built a company that was like the company that you might think makes these products but really doesn’t exist,“ Moritz says.
Society Awards started with smaller contracts — Spike TV’s awards, MTV’s awards — before securing the Globes’ contract in 2008.
“I wore them down,” Mortiz says of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, hosts of the Golden Globes. “Finally I just said the right thing to the right person — I wanted to make a better, 24-karat gold plating finish that would be richer and shiner and more luxurious.”
In 2008, Society Awards spearheaded a redesign of the famous award. The process took a year to complete. The company started from scratch — selecting a new type of marble for the base (“sourced from Eastern Europe,” Mortiz says, though he’s not sure exactly where), creating a fresh clay model of the iconic globe wrapped in celluloid, and identifying a new manufacturing process.
The Globe, made of die cast zinc, starts off in a huge casting machine, Moritz says. "Basically, you would use it for auto parts. It creates a really hard, quality, dense metal that we can then polish to a mirror-shiny finish." That's all done by hand, he adds.
Next, the awards is electroplated. “Electroplating is when you have an actual molecular bond of one metal to the surface of another. It’s about a dozen steps that build up different layers of silver and copper underneath, and then the final layer is 24-karat gold,” Moritz explains.
The component pieces of are assembled a year in advance, and stored at the warehouse at the end of the golden hallway in Grove, Oklahoma until the trophies are ready to be shipped to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association office on Beverly and Robertson in Los Angeles. They are transported to the Beverly Hilton Hotel on the day of the ceremony, where they are handed off to the winners on stage.
The redesigned statue premiere at the 2009 Golden Globes, complete with a leather-bound case, lined with red velvet. Before, Moritz says, it was just bubble wrap.