Hollywood Foreign Press Association
|Ali Sar (president)|
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is a non-profit organization of journalists and photographers who report on the entertainment industry activity and interests in the United States for media (newspaper, magazine and book publication, television and radio broadcasting) predominantly outside the U.S. The HFPA consists of about 90 members from approximately 55 countries with a combined following of more than 250 million. It conducts the annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony in Los Angeles every January, which honors notable examples of film and television and achievements in entertainment businesses.
The first Golden Globes awardees were for the cinema industry in early 1944 with a ceremony at 20th Century Fox. There, Jennifer Jones was awarded Best Actress honors for The Song of Bernadette which also won for Best Film, while Paul Lukas took home Best Actor laurels for Watch on the Rhine. Awards were presented in the form of scrolls.
The following year members came up with the idea of presenting winners with a golden globe encircled with a strip of motion picture film and mounted on a pedestal.
In 1950, differing philosophies among members caused a schism within the organization, resulting in a split into two separate groups: The Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association and the Foreign Press Association of Hollywood. The separation ended in 1955 when the journalists reunited under the collective title The Hollywood Foreign Press Association with firm guidelines and requirements for membership.
In 1955, the Golden Globes began honoring achievements in television as well as in film. The first honorees in the Best Television Show category that year were Dinah Shore, Lucy & Desi, The American Comedy and Davy Crockett.
Membership meetings are held monthly, and the officers and directors are elected annually. A maximum of five journalists can be admitted to the organization each year. To retain "Active" status, each member must be currently accredited by the Motion Picture Association of America and must submit clippings of their work every year to renew their active status or be reassigned to a non-voting affiliate status.
Requirements for active membership include primary residence in Southern California, attendance in at least four monthly general membership meetings and a minimum of four published articles or photographs per year outside the US. The HFPA does not release a list of acceptable publications for those articles but they are not restricted to popular, mainstream ones.
In February 2021, the Los Angeles Times reported that none of the association's members was black. In response, in early May 2021, the HFPA announced a plan to increase membership with a "specific focus on recruiting Black members", improving governance and reducing conflicts of interest.
The HFPA is a nonprofit organization that donates funds to entertainment-related charities. The Golden Globe Awards brings in about $10 million from its television broadcast each year. The HFPA hosts an annual grants banquet to distribute funds; $2.1 million was donated to nonprofits in 2015. According to the HFPA, since 1990 more than $23.9 million was donated to charity up to 2015 and used to fund scholarships and grants.
As of 2018, the HFPA announced its residency program in partnership with Film Independent. The program selects three winners from the Venice Film Festival’s Orizzonti section and three participants from Toronto International Film Festival to Los Angeles for an intensive workshop.
The 2020 residency program winners were TIFF participants: All These Creatures by Australian Charles Williams, Misterio by Chema Garcia from Spain, and Measure by Canadian director Karen Chapman. This is in addition to Venice winners: Atlantis, by Ukrainian Valentyn Vasyanovych, Blanco en Blanco by Spaniard Théo Court and Filipino Raymund Ribay Gutierrez.
The 2021 residency program winners were TIFF participants: Hair: The Story of Grass, Maha Al–Saati's, Jeff Wong's H’mong Sisters, and Matria by Alvaro Gago Diaz. This is in addition to the Venice winners in the Orizzonti section: Best Film - Dashte Kamoush (The Wasteland), by Ahmad Kahrimi; Lahi, Hayop (Genus Pan), Lav Diaz Best Director, and Special Jury Prize Listen, by Ana Rocha de Sousa.
Sexual harassment allegations
In 2018, actor Brendan Fraser claimed that former HFPA president Philip Berk groped him in 2003. The organization commissioned an internal investigation, which concluded that Berk acted inappropriately but meant no harm. HFPA officials asked Fraser to sign onto a joint statement about the matter but would not share the complete findings with him.
Membership and accusations of self-dealing
An investigation by the Los Angeles Times found that the HFPA regularly pays its 87 members in excess of US$1 million annually for serving on various committees, which may jeopardize its status as a tax-exempt non-profit organization.
The HFPA's small membership has also been described as easier to sway than the significantly larger voting bodies of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and the Television Academy; the report alleged that members had been offered access to actors and film sets, and expensive gifts (including high-priced hotel stays and restaurant bookings).
The report also alleged that many of its members are not journalists at all, established foreign journalists who apply were regularly rejected, and that there were many instances of members "representing" countries where they were not from, nor where they currently resided.
An antitrust lawsuit was filed against the HFPA by a Norwegian journalist, whose request for membership in the HFPA had been repeatedly rejected. She alleged that the group was operating as a cartel monopolizing the market of foreign entertainment journalism, that she had been rejected as to not cannibalize other Scandinavian members, and that her inability to join was impacting her ability to gain their "exclusive" access to celebrities and junkets. On November 24, 2020, a federal court threw out the lawsuit, arguing that the reporter did not define the "market" that the HFPA was allegedly monopolizing, and that the HFPA was not subject to the right of fair procedure, since engaging in an "activity of some interest to the public" was not the same as operating "in the public interest".
In 2021, the HFPA faced criticism for the lack of Black representation among its members; it was reported by the Los Angeles Times that the association had not had a new Black member since Meher Tatna, its former president, in 2002. Variety cited criteria requiring new members to have been sponsored by two current HFPA members as being a major roadblock towards recruiting new black members, explaining that "for a foreign journalist based in Los Angeles, building relationships with this small group, which are largely unknown to the public, is difficult due to its tight and exclusive membership policies. More transparency would help alleviate the public perception that the group doesn’t seek to be inclusive."
Ahead of the 78th Golden Globe Awards, Time's Up launched a social media campaign to draw attention to the issue. On February 25, 2021, the HFPA stated that it was "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", and that it planned to "immediately work to implement an action plan" to "bring in Black members, as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds." The HFPA stated that over 35% of its members were from non-European countries, and does contain people of color, but it was aware that none of its current members were Black.
On March 9, 2021, the HFPA announced that it had hired Shaun R. Harper, executive director of the USC Race and Equity Center, as its new "strategic diversity officer", and hired Ropes & Gray to "support the continued development of a confidential reporting system for investigating alleged violations of our ethical standards and code of conduct." In April 2021, former HFPA president Philip Berk was expelled after he emailed fellow members an article that described Black Lives Matter as a "racist hate movement", and slammed organizer Patrisse Cullors for purchasing a home in an upscale neighborhood.
Attempts at reforms, boycotts
On May 3, 2021, the HFPA announced plans for a reform package, including a 50% increase in members over the next 18 months with a particular focus on underrepresented groups (with at least 20 new members over the next year, which will have a focus on new Black members), new professional administrative positions (including a CEO, CFO, chief diversity, equity, & inclusion officer, and chief human resources officer), establishing an oversight board for a "critical organizational reform", and other accountability improvements (including term limits for board members and restricting internal "gifts"). The majority of the HFPA's members voted in favor of the package on May 6; due to California law, the changes to the organization's bylaws are subject to further votes by the HFPA's full membership scheduled in June and July.
While Dick Clark Productions and NBC–the long-time producer and broadcaster of the Golden Globes respectively—supported the planned reforms, Time's Up and a group of 100 PR firms criticized the lack of given timelines for filling some of the new management positions, arguing that they would not be completed soon enough to have any material impact on the cycle of the next Golden Globes. Time's Up further argued that the package "largely contains no specifics" nor "commitments to real accountability or change".
On May 7, 2021, both Amazon Studios and Netflix announced that they would stop their activities with the HFPA until sufficient actions on reforms are made. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos stated that the company "[doesn't] believe these proposed new policies — particularly around the size and speed of membership growth — will tackle the HFPA’s systemic diversity and inclusion challenges, or the lack of clear standards for how your members should operate"
On May 10, WarnerMedia and its subsidiaries similarly boycotted the HFPA, stating that the proposed reforms "[don't go] far enough in addressing the breadth of our concerns, nor does your timeline capture the immediate need by which these issues should be addressed", and also criticizing "special favors and unprofessional requests [that] have been made to our teams and to others across the industry", the lack of diversity among Golden Globe nominees and winners, and the HFPA not having an "enforced code of conduct that includes zero tolerance for unwanted physical contact of all talent and staff."
The same day, NBC announced that it would not broadcast the 79th Golden Globe Awards ceremony in 2022, stating that "change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right", and that "we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023." In support of the boycotts, Tom Cruise returned the Golden Globes that he won for Born on the Fourth of July, Jerry Maguire and Magnolia. Following these events, the HFPA released a new timeline for its reforms, which would see the process completed by the week of August 2.
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