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The Golden Globes Now Have A New Owner. Will The Movie Industry Stand By The Troubled Awards Show?

A shiny globe wrapped in a film reel reflects the HFPA logo and a screen promoting Golden Globe Awards.
The stage for the 79th Golden Globe Awards nominations, Dec. 13, 2021, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
(Robyn Beck
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AFP via Getty Images)
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The announcement this week that Dodger and Lakers co-owner Todd Boehly was buying the Golden Globes show — and that it would no longer be a non-profit enterprise — raises the question: Will the movie industry abandon its partner-in-awards-season-crime?

To use a legal turn of phrase, Hollywood remains an unindicted co-conspirator in legitimizing the unequivocally illegitimate Golden Globes.

Some show business awards consultants told me they hoped the announcement would kill the Globes for good. Yet several others said not only is the show not dead, it could be back soon.

Who Votes

In even the simplest test of distinction or credibility, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association., which presents the Globes, fails. Its 100-odd voters (pun intended) purport to cover Hollywood for largely obscure international outlets. To join the HFPA, though, these journalists must only write a few articles a year. And once admitted, the circus really starts.

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For decades, the Globes have been attacked for a variety of offenses. Before being shamed into compliance, HFPA members welcomed posh, all-expenses-paid global junkets (whose purveyors shockingly went on to win trophies) and hosted news conferences that yielded far more celebrity selfies than news.

The Oscar Connection

Nevertheless, stars, studios and streamers not only courted Golden Globe votes but also attended the annual ceremony en masse, which is essentially a discount Academy Awards with more alcohol. Hardly any honest people I know in the industry (a small group indeed) took the organization or its prizes — sometimes bestowed on substandard performances and poorly reviewed movies — that seriously.

But these industry insiders also recognized that with the town’s complicity, the Globes could help influence Oscar voters. What’s more, the ceremony was a lot more fun than the Academy Awards. And thus, in a craven effort to seize any possible awards boost, Hollywood created its own embarrassing monster, knowing full well how the organization really behaved.

Ricky Gervais gestures at a clear lectern with a piece of paper in his right hand. He wears a burgundy smoking jacket.
Ricky Gervais onstage during the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton International Ballroom on Jan. 15, 2012
(Handout/Getty Images
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Getty Images North America)

Why Last Year's Show Was Cancelled

A year ago, Scarlett Johansson said the HFPA’s behavior included "sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on sexual harassment.” Mark Ruffalo said at the time, "Honestly, as a recent winner of a Golden Globe, I cannot feel proud or happy about being a recipient of this award."

What appeared to be the nail in the HFPA’s coffin was a series of stories published by the Los Angeles Times early last year that detailed, among other things:

  • The HFPA not having a single Black voter
  • Questionable financial self-dealing, where the HFPA paid its members

Despite the HFPA’s pledge to add more non-white voters and take steps to improve its financial controls, NBC canceled this year’s Globes broadcast, and has not yet said whether the show will return in 2023.

What's Next

Boehly’s offer, made public Thursday, doesn’t quite clean up the HFPA mess. The terms of the for-profit deal allows the HFPA to retain its separate charitable arm and members will be paid a reported $75,000 for several years. So at least for now we know they're making money to be voters, rather than under the table.

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Reactions to the announcement were mixed, with several prominent awards campaigners telling me they wouldn’t be surprised (or even disappointed) if the Globes returned soon.

Veteran publicist Marcel Pariseau (who represents Johansson, among others) sent an email to the HFPA, copying an array of Hollywood publicists on his message. Pariseau wrote, in a copy of the message I was given:

“As a group of publicists we have been asking for the last few months and much, much longer for a zoom call/meeting with all of us... to garner an update and to educate us about your progress and reforms.

Once we had that information the goal was to help the HFPA towards a positive and productive path in terms of the Globes moving forward that was beneficial for ALL….At the moment, I feel duped and misinformed.”
What questions do you have about film, TV, music, or arts and entertainment?
John Horn covers the business of entertainment, examining what's next for Hollywood post pandemic.