Pound for pound, the relatively few members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. are some of the most powerful folks in show business come award season. Snicker all you want, but even if the Golden Globe Awards handed out by the HFPA don't match the Academy Awards in prestige, they do generate plenty of buzz, draw significant ratings and often serve as predictors of Oscar sentiment.
And unlike the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which contains roughly 6,000 voting members, the HFPA's influence is concentrated in the hands of fewer than 100 people, meaning each of their Globe votes for carries a disproportionate amount of weight.
But who exactly makes up this shadowy group, and where do they hail from? Although the international journalists who make up the HFPA must have a permanent primary residence in Southern California, they disseminate their work abroad and are thus largely unknown to U.S. audiences. They needn't be prolific reporters either, as membership rules require just four published stories each year.
Scouring the HFPA website, however, does turn up a few interesting tidbits about the group's ranks.
Who would have guessed, for example, that there is only one HFPA member active in each of the world's two most populous nations, India and China? (Granted, another member is listed as being active in Hong Kong.)
For comparison, that's the same number as Tahiti, the French West Indies or Latvia.
Less surprisingly, the HFPA is most active in Europe, with 11 members publishing in Germany, six in the U.K., six in Italy, five in France and three each in Spain and Switzerland, and much of the rest of the continent covered as well.
The HFPA is rather more sparsely represented in South America and Africa. Most disappointingly, though, the association does not appear to have any members publishing on Antarctica. Hopefully, that oversight will be addressed.
Far-flung locales notwithstanding, on Jan. 12, all eyes will be trained on the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, where this year's Golden Globes will be handed out.