The L.A. Times’ recent bombshell investigation of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the non-profit organization that selects Golden Globe winners, revealed allegations of corruption, bullying, and self-dealing to the tune of millions of dollars by members.
The report describes HFPA, which has about 90 members, as “struggling to shake its reputation as a group whose awards or nominations can be influenced with expensive junkets and publicity swag.” In spite of the pandemic and its devastating impact on the movie business, HFPA members were paid $1.929 million for the fiscal year ending in June 2020, representing “more than double the level three years earlier,” according to the L.A. Times.
With the virtual Golden Globes set to air live from The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on NBC on Feb. 28, the allegations are raising questions about the legitimacy of Hollywood’s annual rite of passage for creators and entertainers hoping to expand their careers and businesses by winning a Golden Globe.
Getting snubbed by the HFPA can have the effect of stifling careers and opportunities, Rashad Robinson, president of the civil rights organization Color of Change, told Yahoo Finance.
“Those doors that get closed [by not winning a Golden Globe award] are economic doors, are doors to greater opportunities. Are doors where people can then build businesses for the future and so that is why this is so important,” Color of Change president Rashad Robinson told Yahoo Finance. “That's why these allegations are so egregious, because the role that the Golden Globes had in being able to be sort of this door opener, should be questioned.”
When creators and entertainers in front and behind the camera are excluded from nominations and awards, the impact on their families and communities runs deep, Robinson said. The LA Times report pointed out that the HFPA has no Black people among its membership of 87 international journalists who vote on the Golden Globe Awards.
The nominations of Regina King, Chloe Zhao, and Emerald Fennell mark the first time that the HFPA has nominated three women in the “Best Director” category. Barbra Streisand is the only woman to have ever won the Best Director award in the Globes’ more than 70-year history. (Streisand won for the movie “Yentl” in 1984.)
The HFPA is also facing criticism for not giving Black-led projects more recognition. A writer for the Netflix series “Emily in Paris,” nominated for a Golden Globe for “Best Comedy Series,” actually called out the awards show for giving Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You” TV series the cold shoulder.
“There are Black creatives who did get nominated this year that we should be celebrating and uplifting,” said Robinson. “The Golden Globes director category is more diverse from a gender perspective, I believe, than ever before. So there are some things that we should sort of make sure that we don’t throw out.”
However, Robinson views the fresh allegations as an opportunity to examine the rules governing Golden Globe nominations and whether the HFPA is abiding by them.
“If the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is not willing to sort of interrogate their rules, deal with the leadership challenges they have, then they don’t deserve our support anymore,” said Robinson, a key organizer of the #StopHateForProfit advertising boycott against Facebook in 2020 for failing to rid its platform of hate speech.
Networks and advertisers who support the Golden Globes award telecast should also take a hard look at the HFPA’s actions, says Robinson. “The networks that run them should question whether or not they’re running a system, an awards show that is rigged, or has these types of violations,” said Robinson. “We would hold our support or we would push back on other big events if we thought that they were rigged, right?”
The HFPA, in a statement to Yahoo Finance, said: “We are fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, tv and the artists inspiring and educating them. We understand that we need to bring in Black members, as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible.”
This story was updated on Feb. 26 to include a statement from the HFPA.
More from Sibile: