With the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. mired in a scandal over its lack of Black members and shoddy ethical practices, many in show business are wondering if the Golden Globes have permanently lost their luster.
According to top film executives, agents and celebrity wranglers, studios and stars aren’t quite ready to tell the HFPA to take a hike.
In the days leading up to last February’s broadcast, two major film studios considered an outright boycott of the nearly 80-year-old franchise, following two damning reports about financial irregularities and the questionable influence wielded by the notoriously lean group of journalists (almost 90 members, as opposed to the nearly 10,000-member Academy).
One studio executive speaking on the condition of anonymity says his company explored “icing out” the HFPA, with an eye to investing in raising the profile of another, less toxic awards show.
“The feedback we got was, ‘The talent wants this,’” the executive says. It’s no secret that the Golden Globes are seen as a key momentum builder on the road to the Oscar stage. Yet this year, numerous sources say, exasperation reached a critical mass with a body that openly invites its star hosts to mock it from the stage at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Another high-profile adviser to actors and filmmakers says discussion of an A-list boycott of this year’s tele-cast stalled due to a surplus of first-time nominees. One thing the Globes has done in the past is to help raise the profile of younger actors and new shows, and the chance to tearfully accept a prize in front of millions of viewers was too good an opportunity to pass up. The HFPA declined to comment for this story.
If studios and stars took a stand against the HFPA, whose membership has not included a Black journalist in at least two decades, it would be more than symbolic — it would threaten the micro-economy that has sprung up around the show, including stylists, hair and makeup artists, fashion houses, luxury hotels, caterers, drivers and brands that pay big for prime placement.
Dialing up the drama is necessary, argues one entertainment attorney, especially in a town that does just that for a living. This week, dozens of top show business publicity firms signed an open letter to the HFPA saying they will advise their clients to stop participating in events and interviews with the group until it cleans up its act. Press conferences with the HFPA can run studios up to $40k a pop, another source says, between lavish spreads and hotel suites in which to conduct sit-downs.
“Please know that anything less than transparent, meaningful change that respects and honors the diversity and dignity of our clients, their colleagues and our global audience will result in immediate and irreparable damage to the relationship between our agencies, our clients and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association,” a joint statement from 102 companies read, “and those who sanction the institutional inequity and insular culture that currently define it.”
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