By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated January 29, 2003 01:00 PM

When Meryl Streep won the Golden Globe earlier this month for her supporting role in “Adaptation,” she told the cheering crowd that she hadn’t prepared a speech “because it’s been since the Pleistocene Age since I’ve won any of these.”

Well, she may have to wait even longer for an award from her peers. Streep, 53, who easily should have been in the running for her performances in “Adaptation” and “The Hours” — which was a leading role — came up empty-handed Tuesday when the Screen Actors Guild Award nominations were announced.

Now comes word that it was neither a deliberate snub nor a dumb oversight. It was human error.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Sony Pictures Corp. has admitted that an unidentified employee wrongly placed Streep’s name in SAG’s best actress competition for what Sony always considered her supporting role in “Adaptation.” The studio reportedly did not stumble upon the error until the ballots were mailed last month.

“It’s possible that’s what happened,” Streep’s publicist, Lois Smith, tells the Times.

Streep in “Adaptation” was then apparently competing against herself, in “The Hours,” for a SAG nomination — thus canceling herself out entirely.

“It was an unfortunate mistake, but it should not take anything away from her remarkable performance in the film,” said Steve Elzer, a spokesman for Sony, which quickly appealed to SAG to fix the mistake and place Streep in the proper supporting-actress slot.

The studio even offered to pay all costs for fixing the problem — but SAG believed altering the ballot at this point would set a bad precedent. Streep was plain out of luck.

Some might suggest the screw-up could even cause the revered actress — who was certainly poised to break Katharine Hepburn’s Oscar record of 14 nominations — to lose out on Academy Award consideration, given that the SAG prizes are indicators of how the Academy will vote.

Apparently this sort of thing has happened before. The Times notes that last year Universal accidentally placed Jennifer Connelly in SAG’s lead actress category for her supporting work in “A Beautiful Mind.”

Connelly still grabbed a SAG nod as a lead actress, though she lost to Halle Berry for “Monster’s Ball.” But Connelly did win the Oscar and Golden Globe for best supporting actress.