Just a week before the 2021 Golden Globe ceremony, the Los Angeles Times published a devastating exposé on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization behind the awards. Despite hosting one of the most high-profile awards ceremonies in the world, the HFPA had long maintained a shroud of mystery around its membership and protocols. But thanks to the fallout from the Times's coverage, that shroud has been dramatically shredded, and now the future of the Globes is in question. Here's a quick guide to exactly what's going on.
The Golden Globes controversy has been a long time coming.
Since February, the HFPA has become embroiled in a series of major controversies. Firstly, the LA Times article detailed a "culture of corruption" which included improperly subsidizing its members' income, arbitrarily withholding membership from qualified candidates, creating a monopoly on international press access in Hollywood, and breaching journalistic ethics by accepting thousands of dollars' worth of gifts from studios.
The article also revealed, damningly, that none of the HFPA's 87 members are Black. Former HFPA president Meher Tatner later admitted that no Black journalist has been a member for almost two decades. This admission came after the 2021 Globe nominations had already come under fire for overlooking several Black-led movies, which outlets such as Variety noted was part of a long-standing pattern.
Shortly after the Times article, the HFPA released a statement saying “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.”
But the damage was already very much done. In the days following the article, more than 100 PR firms threatened to cut ties with the HFPA, while Golden Globe winners including Shonda Rhimes and Sterling K Brown spoke out against its systemic lack of diversity.
HFPA's plan to address its issues was not well received.
In May, the HFPA unveiled its plan for diversity and ethical reform. The plan involved admitting at least 20 new members before the end of 2021, with an emphasis on recruiting Black journalists, and a longer-term goal of increasing the membership by 50%. The organization also announced that it would bring in restrictions on the types of gifts members could accept.
This announcement was met with skepticism from many in Hollywood, including Time's Up, which released a statement questioning the specifics of HFPA's plan, and director Ava DuVernay, who wrote: "So, the board is gonna oversee its own reform? Same board that oversees and benefits from the current practices and has knowingly perpetuated the HFPA’s corrupt dealings and racial inequity for decades? Got it.”
NBC announced that it will not air the Golden Globes in 2022.
Days after HFPA announced its plan, the powers that be at NBC made it clear that they were unimpressed. The network, which has aired the Globes for 25 years, announced that it would not air the ceremony in 2022, because HFPA was not moving swiftly enough to address its multiple crises.
“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,” NBC said in a statement. “As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes. Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023."
A number of studios, including WarnerMedia, Netflix and Amazon Studios, also announced that they would not participate in any more HFPA events until the organization made substantial changes.
The 2022 Golden Globes will go ahead, but may not air on TV.
In October, the HFPA made an announcement that surprised many in Hollywood—its 2022 ceremony will go ahead without NBC. The 79th Golden Globes will take place on Sunday, January 9.
Per Vanity Fair, it remained unclear from the announcement what the ceremony will look like. It could be a straightforward press conference in which winners are read out, or a more traditional affair where nominees are hosted at a dinner. It's still possible that the HFPA will find a network to televise it, but given all the associated baggage, that may be unlikely.
More pressing is the question of whether studios and networks will want to submit any of their content for nominations—the deadline for submissions is November 15, so they don't have much time to make up their minds. “It seems very messy,” a publicist told Vanity Fair, in the understatement of the century. "I think it continues to be complicated.”
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