I bet when the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. announced last week that it had overwhelmingly approved its board’s plans to radically reform the beleaguered organization, it figured that would be enough to at least temporarily quell criticism that had been mounting ever since the Los Angeles Times published its damning exposé in late February.
That totally naive assumption was obviously dead wrong.
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This week growing outrage and backlash against the HFPA’s anemic commitment to eradicate its systemic racism, sexism and ethical and financial lapses in a serious and timely fashion reached a crescendo when NBC announced on May 10 that it would not air the Golden Globes in 2022. That same morning, WarnerMedia joined Netflix and Amazon Studios in drawing a line in the sand by boycotting the HFPA until the organization could demonstrate that real change would happen — and happen at a much faster pace than the proposed 18 months.
“The HFPA now understands that they can’t get away with business as usual while they work on reforms,” a high-placed industry source told me on background.
Can the Globes be salvaged, I asked this person. The reply: “The Golden Globes are worth saving? It’s the HFPA that has to step into 2021.” In response to NBC’s decision not to broadcast next year’s Globes, the HFPA suddenly released a statement outlining a specific timeline for reform.
But many industry insiders remain highly skeptical that the HFPA’s current leadership and membership can actually save their sinking ship without a radical overhaul.
The consensus I found among those I spoke with was that the entire organization must be reconstituted to reflect a more diverse and ethically responsible group.
Of course, the question that journalists like myself should be asking our own organizations and others who have worked hand in hand with the HFPA for years — including executives from the studios, streamers, networks, publicity firms and awards experts — is why we all were complicit in enabling behavior that we knew was morally questionable.
Veteran publicist Amanda Lunberg conceded to me, “The guiding principle of our industry has been winning awards at all costs, and it’s careened off the rails. If we care about decency, inclusion, ethical behavior and fiduciary responsibility, we must hold each other accountable to these and other tenets for any of it to be respected.” Lunberg is chief executive of 42West, which is among a 100-plus coalition of publicity firms that have applauded NBC’s decision to scrap next year’s Globes and give HFPA time to reform.
“We look forward to supporting the HFPA in this effort and continuing to examine ways in which we can reimagine our own workplaces and the entire Hollywood ecosystem as a safer, fully representative and equitable community where all art — and all artists — thrive in meaningful contribution to our culture and society,” the PR firms said in their May 10 statement.
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