Last year, we reported on a lawsuit brought against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association by a Norwegian journalist who accused the organization—which runs the Golden Globes—of operating as a “cartel” that exists solely to benefit its 87 members and provide them with exclusive opportunities to meet celebrities and get fancy handouts from studios and production companies hoping that a Golden Globe nomination will help boost their Oscar chances. That suit was eventually thrown out, with a judge explaining that, whether or not the organization was being unfair, not being allowed to join hadn’t unjustly hurt the journalist who filed the suit. Rather than celebrating the dismissal as a tacit approval of its practices, though, the HFPA is reportedly now facing some inner turmoil from members who think that, yeah, the way they operate is kinda fucked up.
That’s according to a new Los Angeles Times story, coming in just a week ahead of the 2021 Golden Globe Awards, which says that some HFPA members hoped the lawsuit would force the organization to make some “long-overdue changes.” Apparently the monthly meetings for members have become “a war zone” as some push back against the amount of money that the HFPA takes in and gives back to members who serve on various committees versus the amount of money it actually spends on helping to fund journalism programs or the other charitable causes it’s supposed to support.
The HFPA is a tax-exempt non-profit, but members can get thousands of dollars a month for serving on these committees, like the two dozen members of a “foreign film viewing committee” who apparently get $3,645 a month or the travel committee members who the LA Times says got $2,310 a month last year… in the middle of a global pandemic that largely shut down all travel. Those payouts are all on top of the money the HFPA pays to its board members, which ranges from $63,433 to $135,957 a year, and they also get bonuses for working to put together the Golden Globes ceremony and for “working” at the charitable functions that the HFPA puts on.
Then there are, naturally, the ethical questions that the HFPA is always plagued with. Unnamed sources told the LA Times that there have been a few occasions when movie studios or producers tried to buy awards, but the HFPA denies that anything like that happens. The LA Times does note, however, that “more than 30 HFPA members” were flown to France in 2019 to talk about Emily In Paris, with the Paramount Network (which originally was going to air the series before it landed on Netflix) reportedly putting them up at the fancy Peninsula Paris Hotel. Though there’s surely no evidence that the two things are related, Emily In Paris was then nominated for for Best Television Series, a pick so controversial that it developed its own little cottage industry of controversy.
As for why anyone in Hollywood puts up with all of this, we covered that topic on a recent episode of our Push The Envelope podcast, but the LA Times also has a nice quote that sums up the entertainment industry’s tolerance for shadiness pretty well: “Everybody likes getting an award.”