Hollywood stars

Hollywood stars and studios quietly courted Golden Globe nominations after condemning the group’s lack of diversity and self-treatment

Golden Globes trophies are secured from the stage ahead of the 77th Golden Globe Awards nominations announced at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills on December 9, 2019.
  • The Golden Globe nominations will be announced Monday, despite a Hollywood cold on the awards group.
  • After reports of the HFPA’s lack of diversity and self-operations, NBC canceled the Globes 2022 television broadcast.
  • “Let’s not be too awake. Kamala Harris is not even black, ”said an HFPA member at a meeting on the reforms.

“Amazon Studios invites you to a special screening of ‘Being the Ricardos’,” the digital invitation read, its swoopy cursive familiar to “I Love Lucy” fans.

Held at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, the screening in early December included a question-and-answer session with Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem and other cast in front of a few hundred guests, including a handful from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the beleaguered group. which distributes the Golden Globes and has been heavily criticized by the entertainment community since a February talk detailed its self-centeredness and lack of diversity. (An insider reviewed the email invitation to HFPA members.)

If the HFPA chooses to highlight Kidman or Bardem or others involved with “Ricardos” when the Golden Globe nominations announced on Monday morning, you likely won’t see the typical statement thanking the group. And you certainly won’t see any statuette released in January on NBC, where the annual Globes telecast has been a staple for 15 years.

After a Los Angeles Times investigation into the HFPA uncovered questionable journalistic ethics, no black members, and allegations of financial misconduct, the entertainment community exploded demanding the group reform or disband.

More than 100 PR firms co-signed a letter in March, effectively cutting off the HFPA’s access to the talent they represent. Studios such as WarnerMedia, Netflix and Amazon Studios have vowed not to engage with the organization until it has made significant reforms. Tom Cruise returned his three Globes statuettes. Time’s Up got involved.

“We haven’t worked with the HFPA since these issues were first raised, and like the rest of the industry, we are waiting for a sincere and meaningful resolution before moving forward,” said Jennifer Salke. , director of Amazon Studios, in a May statement.

Most damaging for the group, NBC canceled the telecast of the 2022 Golden Globes.

When the HFPA announced in October that it would nonetheless hold an awards ceremony on January 9, 2022, another LA Times report cited an industry “consensus” to keep a distance. A publicist told the newspaper he would advise clients to decline a Globe nomination.

Yet multiple sources – Insider spoke to 15 industry insiders across studios, agencies, networks, PR firms and the HFPA – argue that any public perception of a blackout is inaccurate. . While the major studios have dismissed the idea of ​​HFPA-hosted events and refused to formally submit projects for nominations, sources say those same studios have quietly continued to provide selection links, DVDs and videos. invitations to events for journalists who are members of the HFPA.

Meanwhile, even in meetings focused on his transformation, some HFPA members have cast doubt on their ability to change course, with one making an offensive comment about Vice President Kamala’s racial background. Harris on a call in July.

“Let’s not be too awake. Kamala Harris is not even black ‘

Since the publicist coalition drafted its March letter, it has met with the HFPA to discuss reforms.

The last time the two groups met was in early October, during a call attended by 10 HFPA members, including President Helen Hoehne, who, along with interim CEO Todd Boehly, explained the reforms proposed to a group of 25 to 30 publicists. The HFPA leadership seemed frustrated, a publicist in attendance said that their efforts were not more praised.

But the PR coalition had reason to be skeptical. In a virtual meeting in July attended by about 75 people, an HFPA member reduced the conversation about the reforms to awkward silence.

“Let’s not be too awake. Kamala Harris is not even black, ”said the HFPA member, according to a participant. (Vice President Harris is of multiracial descent; her mother and father left India and Jamaica, respectively, for the United States.)

James Lee of Lee Strategy, the crisis public relations firm hired by the HFPA, disputed the wording and context of the comment, but did not deny that such a remark was made.

“To portray a wide range of HFPA members on a comment taken out of context and prevent a group of foreign journalists from earning a living, most of whom are themselves diverse… To deny them a living is not worthy of advancing the diversity debate in this country, ”he told Insider. “It also does not advance the cause of diversity in this industry. ”

But this was not the first time that the HFPA has come under intense breed scrutiny. Just two months after the explosive LA Times investigation, longtime HFPA leader Philip Berk was ousted after sharing a post that called Black Lives Matter a “racist hate movement.”

The HFPA has added 21 new members in recent months, including six blacks, bringing its membership to 105. The group has passed statutes to reform the organization and hired a diversity officer, as well as launched a CEO search. . (Interim CEO Boehly is the chairman of MRC, which owns the company that produces the Globes.)

Big show, big money

NBC is paying $ 60 million a year for the rights to the drenched and star-packed ceremony, whose ratings remained relatively high (amid the decline in Oscar viewing numbers) until a pandemic collapses this year. Broadcasting advertising revenue was also flat at around $ 50 million, according to figures from Kantar Media cited in the Washington Post.

But for those in search of an Oscar, a victory at the Globes, even a nomination, can be priceless. Falling just weeks before the Oscar nominations were announced, telecast of the Globes may not only increase a film‘s box office payout – by 31% according to a recent study – but may also turn an Oscar into a nominee, too. although bands like the Producers Guild are more reliable predictors of Oscar nods.

“Despite all the nonsense associated with them, they still carry a lot of weight,” said a longtime industry public relations manager. “In international markets, the Golden Globes always mean a lot in terms of promotional value and sales value.”

So, in any other year, the invitation to “Being the Ricardos” to HFPA members would not have raised eyebrows. A group member shared with Insider a Disney invite that person received to the screening of Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” film, 20th Century Studios, on December 8, a day before the Globes review deadline. Thanks to its disproportionate influence, this small group of international journalists known for their often deaf questions – Scarlett Johansson said some remarks were “bordering on sexual harassment” – have been much more extravagantly courted in the past.

But after the vocal repudiation of the group’s practices, Hollywood seems to be leaving the door open for a comeback. “HFPA and Golden Globes action may have taken a dip, but these golden statuettes are far too valuable for marketing and TV campaigns, and are destined for a comeback much sooner than you think,” predicted rewards consultant Rich Licata from Licata & Co.

What’s next for the Golden Globes after “a crisis of their own accord”

Monday’s nominations will draw close scrutiny from Hollywood stakeholders to see if they reflect more diversity than last year, when acclaimed projects like “Da 5 Bloods” were snubbed. Most sources who spoke to Insider expect applicants to respond in a low-key fashion, acknowledging the honor as well as the challenges of the HFPA. But it might not be long before the party atmosphere returns.

“It’s an industry that historically has a habit of building, then tearing down, then forgiving,” Licata said.

Several insiders have said that while some members of the HFPA seem quirky, the group includes several highly regarded journalists, such as decades-old member Silvia Bizio, who writes for La Repubblica in Italy, and journalist Scott Orlin, who represents Germany.

The controversy has been financially damaging to members who do not have access to major national publications and this year lost the benefit of one-on-one interviews at exclusive HFPA press conferences.

“As a result of the boycott at the start of the year, I now earn 3-5% of my usual income,” HFPA member Michele Manelis told Insider via email. “In addition to the huge financial loss due to the boycott, the metaphorical flogging of the public in the streets through relentless negative press has incredibly damaged my reputation. ”

Manelis, who moved to Los Angeles in 1990 and joined the HFPA in 2012, said she made “a reasonable living” interviewing stars for Australian and New Zealand media, recording three to five articles per week. This year, she said, she was only able to drop off two or three a month.

Although Manelis and others call Hollywood’s current stance toward the HFPA a “boycott,” studio screening invitations indicate otherwise. Several advertising and studio sources have said that while they do not organize screenings specifically for the HFPA, its members are not prohibited from attending events or requesting interviews.

But Lee said that over the summer, HFPA members “systematically requested interviews which were refused” and were only given access through a few selected small group interviews.

“It’s hard to see people you’ve known for a long time going through this,” said the industry’s public relations manager. “On the other hand, there were people in this organization who weren’t great, who weren’t professional.”

One of the signatories of the PR coalition letter, who identifies as non-white and owns an agency that represents many non-white artists, is “in no rush to work with them again.”

“For me, words don’t make sense, I need action and I don’t ask my clients to be the ones who [are] tokenized, ”the person said via email. “I hope they are right and enjoy the long overdue overhaul, but I need more time and action before I jump in with open arms.”

Adding another PR manager: “This is a crisis of their own. “