The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the embattled organization of non-American journalists and photographers behind the Golden Globes, came under heavy fire just ahead of the 2021 ceremony when a series of articles in the Los Angeles Times revealed that the HFPA at that time included zero Black people among its then 87 members and had engaged in unethical conduct and suspect financial practices. The resulting uproar led numerous Hollywood constituencies, including a large contingent of Hollywood publicists, to boycott the HFPA (Tom Cruise even returned the three Globes that he had been awarded), and prompted NBC to decline to air a Globes ceremony in 2022.
The network is zeroing in on an airdate of Tuesday, Jan. 10. The Globes have historically taken place on a Sunday in January, but the first Sunday in January 2023 is New Year’s Day; the second is Jan. 8, which is the last day of the NFL’s regular season, which poses a conflict with NBC Sunday Night Football; and the third is Jan. 15, on which the Critics Choice Awards have already staked their claim — hence the change to a Tuesday.
Representatives of NBC and the HFPA declined to comment for this story.
The Globes returning to network TV marks a win — however controversial — for Todd Boehly, the sports and entertainment mogul who has served as interim CEO of the HFPA since October 2021, and whose investment firm, Eldridge Industries, bought the HFPA in July and assumed ownership of Dick Clark Productions, the longtime producer of the Globes, from MRC on Aug. 5. Eldridge Industries also has a financial stake in Cain International, which has an interest in The Beverly Hilton hotel, the venue that hosts the Globes, and in THR, which is owned by Penske Media.
With the exception of last year, NBC has broadcast the Globes annually since 1996, and in 2018, via parent company NBCUniversal, committed to pay the HFPA and DCP $60 million a year for the right to continue to broadcast the ceremony through 2026. But following the LA Times exposé and widespread industry backlash, NBC declared in a statement at the time, “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.”
The HFPA quickly began passing major reforms — among them, banning members from accepting gifts and removing a cap on new member additions, which enabled it to add 21 new members, six of them Black — but roughly one quarter of its own members voted against the changes, while a couple of others questioned the organization’s sincerity and resigned. Moreover, none of the incumbent members were weeded out of the organization by the implementation of what were advertised as stricter accreditation standards.
The HFPA also rubbed many the wrong way by forging ahead with a 2022 Globes ceremony; in the end, the Jan. 9 gathering wasn’t attended by any talent or broadcast in any way. And in March, Sunshine Sachs, the HFPA’s longtime PR firm, quit, following a D&I advisor and crisis PR advisor out the door.
Eighteen months after the LA Times exposé, many in Hollywood still regard the HFPA as ethically shady. Indeed, plenty of eyebrows were raised when it came to light that Eldridge Industries’ acqusition of the HFPA would not only result in the organization converting into a for-profit organization (while creating a separate non-profit entity for philanthropic efforts), but also that HFPA members would henceforth be paid an annual salary of $75,000, and that a group of outside journalists who will be invited to cast Globes ballots (in order to increase the diversity of the voting pool) will be paid nothing.
Nevertheless, more than a few in town, including a faction of the coalition of publicists that led the charge against the HFPA in 2021, have softened their position and want to get back to business as usual. One reason, to be sure: The Globes telecast, which is usually the highest-rated awards show of the film awards season prior to the Oscars, financially boosts many of their Oscar-hopeful projects and people.
The HFPA seized upon this divide in recent weeks by forming an advisory committee comprised of publicists who are sympathetic to the idea of a resumption of relations, while also sending the larger group of publicists a briefing summarizing the organization’s progress and intentions for the future, in which they declared that they have “answered the call for change” and “increased diversity, transparency and accountability.”
It remains to be seen just who will work with the HFPA — and show up at the Globes — in the months ahead.