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Time's Up CEO hits 'manifested racism' of Golden Globes, HFPA amid backlash

·Producer
·4-min read
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Will it be the end of the Golden Globes? 

The award show, under fire for months, was dealt a fresh blow this week as WarnerMedia (T) joined Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN) and other big production powerhouses in boycotting the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the nonprofit which consists of 86 foreign journalists who dole out one of Hollywood's most coveted awards.

As the backlash intensified, NBC (CMCSA) cancelled next year's telecast, saying in a statement that "change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right." 

In February — just days before the live telecast was set to air — the "L.A. Times" published a scathing exposé on the HFPA, and found evidence of alleged corruption, bullying, and self-dealing. The investigation also noted that not one HFPA member is Black. 

On May 6, 75 out of the 86 members voted for an inclusion and overhaul proposal, which included increasing membership by 50% over the next 18 months, hiring a CEO and adding conduct and ethics measures.

For many, however, the proposal was a small bandaid over a much larger wound — especially after former HFPA president Phil Berk sent an email to members calling Black Lives Matters a “racist hate movement."

The reforms "were sorely lacking," Time's Up CEO and President Tina Tchen told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview.

"It wasn't just about adding more Black people to the organization. It was how they make their decisions, how they apply ethics rules to themselves, how they have accountability and transparency," Tchen added. 

She accused the HFPA of "manifested racism" in its decision-making, referring to "Minari's" placement as a foreign language film despite the fact that it was an American production.

Tchen added that the groups' time table was "too slow," and that the proposed protocols had no mention of the flaws within the nomination process, which consistently shuts out Black-created projects.

Big controversy, shrinking ratings

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) headquarters in West Hollywood, California. The HFPA has been under intense scrutiny after laying out a long-overdue inclusion and overhaul proposal that many say is just too little, too late.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) headquarters in West Hollywood, California. The HFPA has been under intense scrutiny after laying out a long-overdue inclusion and overhaul proposal that many say is just too little, too late.

According to the Times report, millions of dollars were paid to HFPA members in the form of expensive junkets, swag and trips. For the fiscal year ending in June 2020, members collected nearly $2 million in payments — more than double the level three years earlier. 

The details, and the amounts associated with the largesse, were surprising given a coronavirus outbreak that's largely brought the entertainment industry to a grinding halt.

In a statement, the organization pledged to be "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."

Yet the controversy has significantly overshadowed the award show, which saw ratings plummet to a 13-year low of just 6.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen. That's a 63% drop compared to 2020's telecast, which saw an audience of 18.4 million.

The larger question at this time is who's going to touch this with a ten foot pole?Schuyler Moore, attorney

During February's live telecast, the HFPA placed three members on stage who vowed to increase representation and enact polices of greater inclusion.

However, the changes haven't stopped the deluge of criticism, or the organization's loss of public backing. Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos was one of the first high-profile executives to respond, announcing that the streamer wouldn’t engage with the HFPA “until more meaningful changes are made.”

Pictured: (l-r) HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne, HFPA Board Chair Meher Tatna, and HFPA President Ali Sar speak via video at the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton and broadcast on February 28, 2021 in Beverly Hills, California.
Pictured: (l-r) HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne, HFPA Board Chair Meher Tatna, and HFPA President Ali Sar speak via video at the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton and broadcast on February 28, 2021 in Beverly Hills, California.

Soon after, other industry movers followed suit, with A-list actors like Tom Cruise, Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson joining in on the the boycott.

NBC reportedly paid the HFPA $60 million per year for broadcast rights under an eight-year contract that runs through 2026. The funds provided the bulk of the organization's total income. 

Still, it's unclear whether or not NBC is still liable to pay — or if the HFPA can take its 2022 broadcast elsewhere. 

"It totally depends on the contract," attorney at law firm Greenberg Glusker Schuyler Moore told Yahoo Finance, cautioning that it'd be difficult for the show to air on a competing network. 

"The larger question at this time is who's going to touch this with a ten foot pole? It would be very surprising if [another network] picked this up," he said. 

Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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