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Former Publicist Sues Golden Globes, Alleging Shady Conduct

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Michael Russell, a onetime publicist for the annual Golden Globe awards, filed a lawsuit late yesterday against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the group that puts on the annual showbiz spectacle, reports the Daily News.

Russell alleges that many HFPA members take part in "unethical and potentially unlawful" behavior he likens to "payola" schemes. Though the suit does not list specific alleged infractions, the document does say that the HFPA "sells prime spots on the show's red carpet to lesser-known media outlets."

The lawsuit points out that the purported "payola" activities could "jeopardize the group's tax-exempt status." The awards, which honor top performers and productions in film and television, has a legacy of not only being a precursor to the more prestigious Academy Awards, but also of being a shady operation that gives nods to suspect performers and productions in exchange for favors.

In his suit, Russell dredges up the Globes' loss of their broadcast deal with CBS in the early 1980's when the HFPA were "accused of receiving favors in exchange for giving actress Pia Zadora a newcomer award." The 68th annual Golden Globe awards will be handed out in a star-studded telecast on Sunday on NBC, where the show has aired since 1995.