By Alexis Nedd
NBC has joined the chorus of voices calling for rapid, necessary change in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association by refusing to air the organization’s 2022 Golden Globes ceremony. In losing NBC’s support, the HFPA is now faced with a choice to continue with next year’s voting and ceremony without their broadcast partner of 25 years or cancel the Golden Globes until they can meet the demands on NBC and of Hollywood at large.
The controversy surrounding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a relatively small group of entertainment correspondents who nominate and vote for the Golden Globes, came to a head this year for a number of reasons. One of which is the published fact that the HFPA has zero Black correspondents and has historically under-nominated or outright ignored projects by and starring people of color.
Furthermore, news that the publicity team for Netflix’s comedy Emily in Paris flew out several members of the HFPA to Paris for a press trip that included five star accommodation and meals gave the impression that the HFPA’s votes could be swayed with lavish gifts. Emily in Paris received two Golden Globe nominations in 2021.
As the HFPA scrambled to recover from this newfound scrutiny of their inner workings, The Los Angeles Times published leaked email text from former eight-term President of the HFPA Philip Berk,in which he described the Black Lives Matter movement as a hate group and likened a BLM activist’s home purchase in Topanga Canyon to carrying on the work of cult leader Charles Manson (Manson famously brainwashed his followers into committing murders to spark a race war, and Berk appeared to consider Black Lives Matter as the same thing).
In response to these events and many others, the HFPA promised to expand their voting body by 20 new members in 2021 and more than double their numbers in later years with an emphasis on developing a more diverse and representative organization. Their plans to do so have been, according to those with insider knowledge of NBC’s break from the HFPA, insufficient in the eyes of the network and could not be implemented in time to make the 2021 Golden Globes a ceremony worth airing.
NBC’s announcement comes days after major players in the entertainment industry including Netflix, Amazon, and recently Warner Media released statements boycotting the Hollywood Foreign Press Association until the organization comes up with concrete plans for change. Warner Media’s statement echoed the conviction of Amazon and Netflix’s announcements and promised to “refrain from direct engagement with the HFPA, including sanctioned press conferences and invitations to cover other industry events with talent, until these changes are implemented.”
On a more individual level, the controversy surrounding the HFPA has prompted A-List actors to speak up and take action with regard to their experience with the association. Tom Cruise, a three time Globe winner, physically returned the trophies he won for Jerry Maguire, Magnolia, and Born on the Fourth of July to the HFPA in presumed protest of the awards.
Scarlett Johansson also released a statement that clarified her discomfort with working with the HFPA, which to her “often meant facing sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on sexual harassment.” Johansson’s Avengers co-star Mark Ruffalo, who just won a 2021 Golden Globe for I Know This Much Is True, told Deadline that “as a recent winner of a Golden Globe, I cannot feel proud or happy about being a recipient of this award.”