A credibility issue
February 22, 2021 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Ahead of the 78th Golden Globes ceremony, the LA Times just published an investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, its history of scandals, its ongoing "ethical lapses" and the current controversy over the nominations for the much criticized Netflix series "Emily in Paris".

Some highlights:
...Interviews with more than 50 people — including studio publicists, entertainment executives and seven current and former members — as well as court filings and internal financial documents and communications, paint a picture of an embattled organization still struggling to shake its reputation as a group whose awards or nominations can be influenced with expensive junkets and publicity swag.

...“I think the Globes are honestly the most important moment leading up to the Oscars — and when you think that such a small group makes those decisions, it’s kind of horrifying,” said one longtime film publicist who like many interviewed for this article declined to be named out of fear of offending the group. “The real problem is the studios need them.”

...HFPA members have frequently been portrayed as celebrity-obsessed freeloaders, exchanging votes for perks and access and undermining any notion of journalistic credibility — allegations detailed in various stories, most notably a 1996 Washington Post piece by Sharon Waxman titled “Fool’s Gold.

...some members say the association has become less a torchbearer of Hollywood to the wider world than a private retirement cushion for older members and a reliable income stream for nearly everyone else.

In the fiscal year ending in June 2020 the HFPA paid $1.929 million for members serving on committees and performing other tasks. The amount was budgeted to increase to $2.15 million in the current fiscal year ending in June 2021, according to financial records reviewed by The Times.

By the end of 2020, the association was collectively paying nearly $100,000 a month to members serving on more than a dozen different committees. Members often serve on more than one committee, records show.

Two dozen members on the foreign film viewing committee in January each received $3,465 to watch foreign films, according to a monthly treasurer’s report. There is a travel committee that pays those on it $2,310 a month to control the budget and approve membership excursions (despite the pandemic-era halt on travel, payments continued throughout 2020). Members of the film festival committee and the archives committee earn $1,100 and $2,200 a month, respectively. Former presidents and other members are paid $1,000 a month to serve on the history committee.

The film and television academies, by comparison, offer no such remuneration to their members.

...In 2019, more than 30 HFPA members flew to France to visit the set of the new series “Emily in Paris.” While there, Paramount Network treated the group to a two-night stay at the five-star Peninsula Paris hotel, where rooms currently start at about $1,400 a night, and a news conference and lunch at the Musée des Arts Forains, a private museum filled with amusement rides dating to 1850 where the show was shooting.

“They treated us like kings and queens,” said one member who participated in the junket [...]

Last month, “Emily in Paris,” which debuted on Netflix and became an enormous hit for the streamer despite middling reviews, received two Golden Globes nominations including best television musical or comedy series. Though the HFPA has a history of favoring light, European-set fare, the nomination for best series nevertheless surprised some TV insiders who hadn’t considered the show a serious awards contender. One of the show’s own writers, Deborah Copaken, wrote in an op-ed that she was stunned that a frothy show about “a white American selling luxury whiteness” was nominated while HBO’s acclaimed limited series “I May Destroy You,” which deals with the aftermath of rape and knotty questions of race and class, was shut out.

One HFPA member says the show’s best series nod points to a broader credibility issue for the group. “There was a real backlash and rightly so — that show doesn’t belong on any best of 2020 list,” said this member, who did not attend the junket. “It’s an example of why many of us say we need change. If we continue to do this, we invite criticism and derision.”
posted by bitteschoen (18 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I've always been a bit baffled by the popularity of the Golden Globes; literally the first time that I heard about them was in relation to the Pia Zadora thing, and even then they were generally regarded by serious film critics as a sort of extended junket for their members--I would have assumed that everyone else considered them a joke after that. That was nearly forty years ago, though, so I guess not, hmm?
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:59 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]

Was there also weirdness with the nominations for Scent of a Woman? I remember hearing about it, but Google doesn’t turn anything up...
posted by pxe2000 at 2:21 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]

HFPA is a joke, but they throw a great party, and show biz likes rewards.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:46 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]

They're not alone. Alone, yet not alone.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 3:19 PM on February 22

I've heard from an Italian chef that you can rig-a-toni.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:44 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]

Please do not forget how they also put Minari in "Best Foreign Language Film" category, which is a huge xenophobic and racist insult for Asian American and other POC media.
posted by yueliang at 6:01 PM on February 22 [9 favorites]

"You win an Oscar. You buy a Golden Globe."
— Cam, Modern Family, Feb. 26, 2014
posted by bryon at 9:11 PM on February 22 [8 favorites]

I have to admit I too am baffled that the Golden Globes is taken seriously as an awards program - I am sure I see a TV documentary decades ago pointing out what a nonsense it is and how pretty much everything was bought (not saying that doesn't happen with other award ceremonies but with the Golden Globes it is so egregious it is comical).
posted by Megami at 11:26 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]

I have to admit I too am baffled that the Golden Globes any awards program is taken seriously as an awards program
posted by fairmettle at 12:35 AM on February 23 [8 favorites]

Yeah, it's a shame the Golden Globes aren't free from issues around credibility like the Academy Awards, I mean that's assuming you aren't a woman or person of color or care about actually choosing the most artistically significant works, but aside from those petty details the Oscars are completely legit. Sure is a lucky coincidence that the corrupt Golden Globes still somehow manages to end up with roughly the same nominees as the pure as driven snow Academy which is of course never influenced by lobbying like those stupid foreign press outsiders
posted by gusottertrout at 12:43 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

I’m a writer on Emily in Paris. I May Destroy You deserved a Golden Globe nomination
I’m a writer on the show. I tried to avoid reading its criticism, but I don’t live under a rock. It never occurred to me that our show would be nominated. [...] I could definitely see how a show about a white American selling luxury whiteness, in a pre-pandemic Paris scrubbed free of its vibrant African and Muslim communities, might rankle. [... My] excitement is now unfortunately tempered by my rage over Coel’s snub. That I May Destroy You did not get one Golden Globe nod is not only wrong, it’s what is wrong with everything.
posted by trig at 2:11 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]

In the fiscal year ending in June 2020 the HFPA paid $1.929 million for members serving on committees and performing other tasks. The amount was budgeted to increase to $2.15 million in the current fiscal year ending in June 2021, according to financial records reviewed by The Times.

The thing that most consistently amazes me about this sort of corruption is how cheap it is.
posted by mhoye at 6:59 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]

"I've always been a bit baffled by the popularity of the Golden Globes"

W/r/t movies, it's down to two things: 1) they serve alcohol, and everybody drinks, so sometimes you get some very hilarious or overly-honest celeb speeches; and 2) they recognize comedies, while the Oscar nominees lately have been very "only serious movies about serious subjects can be good movies."

W/r/t TV, I've got nothing. I mean, still the drinking, though.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:11 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]

I went to high school in the LA metro in the early '90s. One of my besties was the daughter of a director. Not a huge name, but if you grew up Gen-X you almost certainly saw one of his movies. They lived in a nice house, so she hosted lots of our parties--none of the rest of the social circle had space, y'know?

Before one party, we're cleaning up her kitchen, and she looks at the mail. "Oh, hey, here's the form for Dad's Oscars ballot," she grumbles, and drops it in the trash.

I'm like, "Holy shit, the Oscars? Why would you toss that?"

She says, "It's $1500 to vote in an awards show. It's all a scam. They all are." This was 1992 money, btw. Taught me all I needed to know about Hollywood awards shows and how they work.

I told that story on Facebook during the Oscars So White stuff. She said she didn't remember that conversation, but it was exactly what she'd say and do. And at the time, she had an admin job with Nickelodeon... where, among other ordinary tasks, she stuffed checks into envelopes so shows would be eligible for awards season.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:33 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]

My earlier snarky comment aside, ya gotta ask why there even is a Golden Globes show to kinda get the point of them. I mean why would the foreign press bother to have an awards show of any sort for Hollywood as that doesn't make sense in itself? They have it because it draws attention and makes money, that's why it's held before the "premier" industry award shows and features even more of your favorite Hollywood stars from the big screen and small. People are downright dumb about celebrities. They just can't get enough of them and hold them in special esteem for little sensible reason at all.

The Golden Globes are just a TV event to draw advertising dollars to see those celebrities dress up and compete for an award based on some vague idea of merit, where merit is narrowly defined to fit roughly the same standards of industry self-promotional ideology as the industry awards, which gives the event enough of a "serious" aspect to feel like the awards mean something. Hollywood isn't the only industry to give out awards, plenty of other big industries do, but no one cares outside their ranks because they aren't in the celebrity business as Hollywood is.

The faux-merit appeal is fit to how the industry wants to project itself and to the interests and prejudices of those who are a part of its business. In the case of Hollywood, that's slightly more "liberal" than the bulk of the US and favoring a sense of importance in the types of work rewarded, where the bulk of the member voting blocks are made up of actors, so primarily favoring actorly shows and roles and those celebs, crew, and production companies that have built the best relationships with the membership, with some exceptions for "statement" votes that occasionally do have some connection to a sense of wider merit when the other options lack a unifying "message".

The Golden Globes also get the benefit of being a little looser, a bit like the MTV movie awards in a sense, where there is also a purposefully driven atmosphere of "fun" baked in to allow for some celebs and shows that otherwise wouldn't get the more "serious" awards some chance to show up in their finery as well.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:23 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

Good "work" if you can get it.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:47 PM on February 23

I'm like, "Holy shit, the Oscars? Why would you toss that?"

She says, "It's $1500 to vote in an awards show. It's all a scam. They all are."

As far as I know that's not true for the Oscars? You do have to be a dues-paying member of AMPAS, but I just checked and it's $450 per year now and $250 back in 2004, and if her father got a ballot he would have already paid dues.
posted by tavella at 8:07 PM on February 23

« Older NASA/JPL drop first-ever video of landing on Mars   |   The "jungle" is still dangerous - and demeaning Newer »

You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.