Is Hollywood ready for the Golden Globes’ return? Many say serious questions remain
Welcome to the Wide Shot, a newsletter about the business of entertainment. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.
Times film business reporter Ryan Faughnder is on paternity leave; Stacy Perman is filling in.
NBC is poised to resurrect the Golden Globes and broadcast the awards ceremony in time for its 80th anniversary next January. I’m told an announcement could come as early as this week.
This would be a major step for the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the voting group behind the Globes, which has spent much of the past two years attempting to get back into Hollywood’s good graces after the industry turned its collective back on them.
But many in the industry say serious questions remain about the organization, casting doubts on who might participate in next year’s ceremony.
Although beset by scandals for nearly eight decades, the HFPA, a small, mysterious band of foreign journalists, brandished outsized influence in Hollywood. Then it all came crashing down.
In February 2021, a Times investigation brought to light allegations of financial and ethical lapses and revealed that not one of the HFPA’s then-87 members was Black, sparking a widespread backlash. In March, a coalition of powerful talent publicists boycotted the group. By May, NBC had pulled the plug on the 2022 Golden Globes broadcast after Netflix and other major studios cut ties with the organization “until more meaningful changes are made.”
After resisting change, the HFPA vowed to reform. It was a messy process marked by infighting and notable missteps: Former eight-term president Phil Berk stepped down after sending an email to members comparing Black Lives Matter to a hate group; its diversity consultant quit; and two members resigned in protest, calling the reforms “window-dressing.”
In August, however, the HFPA voted for new bylaws, established a new code of conduct and implemented a slew of changes: It hired its first DEI officer, added 21 new members, six of whom are Black, and abolished gifts and other perks long associated with membership. It also embarked on partnerships with the NAACP and the World Bank.
But as the months wore on, there was no great clamoring within Hollywood to get back to business. In January, when the HFPA put on the Globes, it was untelevised and unattended by any of the nominees.
“No one seems upset about it. No one has said why aren’t’ you doing more for the HFPA,” said one studio executive.
Now, the idea of bringing back the Globes has split the industry into various factions: drop them, keep them or “let’s wait and see.”
“Certainly, the organization had some wonky policies and it’s certainly an unusual group, but there’s also some really fine and respected journalists working there,” said one publicist who supports the resumption but declined to be named out of fear of drawing criticism.
“It’s a Hollywood tradition that’s been around a very long time,” the publicist added. “While I support the need to update and upgrade the way they did business, I didn’t agree with being as punitive as some other colleagues. Why throw baby out with the bathwater?”
Others, however, say the HFPA simply hasn’t done enough and are skeptical about the reforms.
“I have a lot of questions,” said publicist Marcel Pariseau, head of True Public Relations, who represents a number of A-listers, including Scarlett Johansson. “This concerns me. I’m not sure if it concerns the industry or not.”
A key issue for some is that those tasked with reforming the group are the very same people who have been both members and part of its leadership for decades. There’s a sense that the HFPA is simply shuffling the deck.
While the association added independent advisors, the “new” board it elected last year is made up of longtime members. Helen Hoehne, its president, was reelected in August for another term, served as an HFPA director between July 2012 and June 2019 and became the group’s board vice president in September 2020.
“I get this feeling when I talk to my clients, no one really wants them to come back,” said one high-level agent who, like many others, asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the subject.
For years, publicists and others have questioned the journalistic credentials of the HFPA’s members. They had asked the group to have members resign and reapply under more stringent criteria. Last year, all existing members were re-accredited, with some veteran members who were no longer active journalists given emeritus status.
For the record:4:20 p.m. Sept. 14, 2022
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that a majority of the new 103 international voters hailed from Europe. The majority of the group - 56.5 % - come from outside of Europe, which represents the largest geographic block.
This month, the association added 103 international, nonmember voters. While this addressed some of the criticism by both expanding and diversifying the HFPA’s voting ranks, this group is 41.7% white and 43.5 % hail from Europe, the largest geographic block, according to the association.
The HFPA says it will soon release their names, bios and media affiliations.
“I’m in a holding pattern, as are many of my colleagues,” said one powerful publicist who declined to be identified so as not to adversely affect any clients. ”I have to wait to see where these journalists come from. That has been part and parcel of the problem of the original 87. A lot of them are not even working for legitimate outlets, but a tear sheet from a supermarket rag in Bulgaria.”
Expanding and diversifying membership is only one of a range of concerns the HFPA must still address, critics say.
“There are so many issues. Where to start,” said the studio executive. “There’s the diversity issue, the financial impropriety issue, the issue of inappropriate questions at press conferences, the accreditation of members. There’s a laundry list.”
HFPA representatives dismiss such criticism.
“We’ve done everything exactly the way we said we’d do it, the way critics and reformers advocated and in a public manner,” said James Lee, a spokesperson for the HFPA. “Any further attempt to mischaracterize the work being done as not sufficient is pretty laughable.”
In July, the HFPA approved interim Chief Executive Todd Boehly ‘s proposal to buy the Globes and turn it into a for-profit venture. The new private entity will manage Golden Globes assets while maintaining the group’s charitable and philanthropic programs in a separate nonprofit entity.
But Boehly’s position as the head of Eldridge Industries has prompted a new wave of questions and concerns. Eldridge is the parent company of the Globes’ producer, Dick Clark Productions (meaning Eldridge stands to gain the full $60-million licensing fee from NBC that was for years split between both DCP and HFPA). Eldridge also owns the Beverly Hilton, which hosts the Globes; major stakes in trade publications such as the Hollywood Reporter; and production companies, including A24, whose content could be up for Globes consideration.
“There’s such a conflict of interest everywhere you turn here. It gives me pause,” said one publicist.
Further, under terms of the Boehly deal, full HFPA members will be paid annual salaries of $75,000 a year for several years, essentially transforming them into paid voters.
The Times’ investigation found that the nonprofit HFPA had regularly issued substantial payments to its own members in ways that some experts said could run afoul of Internal Revenue Service guidelines. HFPA members collected nearly $2 million in payments from the group in its fiscal year ending in June 2020 for serving on various committees and performing other tasks — more than double the level three years earlier.
As a for-profit, the HFPA will no longer be subject to IRS requirements around rules regulating nonprofits such as making public its tax returns.
Lee contends the payments are appropriate because the members will be paid for performing as yet undetermined duties “as for for any for-profit company.” The charity functions will remain with a nonprofit wing, he said.
Lee added that the group has doubled the voting body and the block of new international voters will not be compensated.
“I don’t think you can do anything more reform-minded than make an organization disappear and that is what is happening with the new for-profit organization. I think we have fully and clearly addressed every major concern about the voter body.”
As these and other questions continue to swirl around the HFPA, the Globes red carpet is readying to roll.
What remains to be seen is whether anyone shows up.
Stuff we wrote
— Three years after Hollywood assistants took a stand, fed up with long hours, low pay and difficult conditions, #PayUpHollywood, the grassroots organization that formed in 2019 to advocate for entertainment support staff, says little has changed. I wrote about the group’s latest annual survey, which revealed that most assistants make less than $50,000 a year, struggle to make rent and frequently are asked to pay for work-related expenses. Many also report being asked to alter their timecards to avoid getting paid overtime.
— It was a good night for HBO at the 74th Emmy Awards. HBO stars and creators created a beaten path to the stage, winning 11 of the televised awards, including best drama for “Succession,” Stephen Battaglio reports. Combined with the Creative Arts Emmys given out last week, HBO and HBO Max totaled 38 Emmys, topping the 26 pulled in by Netflix. HBO and Netflix have battled it out for top winner at the Emmys in recent years, with Netflix taking the top spot last year. Here’s the list of winners.
— Wendy Lee chronicles how “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” cast pushed back against racism. The hotly anticipated Amazon series — the most expensive in television history — faced a wave of backlash over its decision to populate Middle-earth with a diverse cast. Some viewers who read Tolkien’s books expected more of a literal interpretation, for instance, on the page some Elves were described as light-skinned and having long hair. But the show’s actors denounced the criticism and threats that were hurled at the the nonwhite actors depicting the series’ characters. “Our world has never been all white, fantasy has never been all white, Middle-earth is not all white,” the cast said in the statement, thanking their fans for supporting them. “BIPOC belong in Middle-earth and they are here to stay.”
— The Writers Guild of America won another victory in its efforts to force studios, streamers and others to cough up unpaid compensation. Amazon will pay more than $4 million in residuals and interest to WGA writers as part of a settlement. The move comes after WGA won an arbitration ruling against Netflix, resulting in the streamer paying $42 million in unpaid residuals to 216 writers.
— Stephen Battaglioabout the lessons he learned from Vin Scully and how he will apply them to his next play. Michaels will be sitting in the broadcast booth for Amazon Prime Video’s “Thursday Night Football,” the opening contest in the first NFL TV package shown exclusively on a streaming video service.
Number of the week:
The age of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history who died last week after 70 years on the throne. Here’s the Times report on her passing and legacy.
Rolling Stone chronicles Queen Elizabeth’s cultural reign inspiring “everything from affectionate caricature to sneering punk anthems.” There was the Sex Pistols’ 1977 “God Save The Queen” and the Smiths’ “The Queen Is Dead” in 1986; she was parodied in “The Kids in the Hall” and “Austin Powers”; and there was Helen Mirren’s sober portrayal in “The Queen.” And of course, there was the queen’s own turn as Bond Girl in the 2012 London Olympics alongside Daniel Craig.
The Venice premiere of “Don’t Worry Darling” sent the internet into overdrive: Did Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine? Did Shia LaBeouf quit or did director Olivia Wilde fire him? And speaking of Wilde, what’s behind her feud with the movie’s lead actress Florence Pugh? In Julie Miller’s Vanity Fair profile, Wilde addresses the high drama surrounding the film as well as the director’s offscreen life.
The number of weekly permitted shoot days in Los Angeles last week dipped 3% from the same time a year ago but is up 98% compared with 2020.
As was her life, Queen Elizabeth’s death will be a media spectacle. A public holiday in Britain, her state funeral — codenamed “Operation London Bridge,” on Sept. 19, following 10 days of mourning — will be covered by every media platform. Here is a day-to-day guide to the detailed arrangements as the queen’s remains are moved from Scotland to St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle where to be laid to rest.
Inside the business of entertainment
The Wide Shot brings you news, analysis and insights on everything from streaming wars to production — and what it all means for the future.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.