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".
...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.”