Golden Globes Are Right to Push Forward Without Submission Requirements

·5-min read
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AWARDS CIRCUIT COLUMN LOGO


The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s decision to power forward with some sort of Golden Globes in 2022 has left some publicists a bit apoplectic. They expected to be rid of the awards show, at least for the coming year, especially after NBC officially canceled the live telecast.

But it always seemed likely that the HFPA would still give out some sort of Golden Globes sans ceremony in 2022 — even if it were just a press conference, members luncheon or emailed release. (I assume all of those possibilities are on the table, although the HFPA is still mum on what exactly it has in store.) Those who expected the HFPA to completely go silent this year are being unrealistic — and unfair.

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At the very least, the HFPA should announce Golden Globes winners in 2022 in order to keep its record book intact. An odd gap year without winners would diminish any sort of historic context for the award moving forward. It’s not fair to the HFPA or the shows and films that would miss out on being a Globe nominee or winner. It would mess with tallies, with some shows and all 2021 films missing out on being a part of the historic Globes record through no fault of their own.

Coincidentally, the biggest show on television right now happens to be an international series: “Squid Game.” Should a global phenomenon like that be shut out of the Globes annals due to past HFPA malfeasance?

Let’s make things clear: The HFPA, which has made some very public moves over the last several months in an attempt to overhaul its operations, is still in the hot seat. The organization has been properly chastised for past transgressions, and have unveiled reforms that include no more studio and network gifts; the addition of 21 new members; and other new bylaws. Now it’s time to see whether there’s real teeth behind these changes.

The HFPA’s new president, Helen Hoehne, and interim CEO, Todd Boehly, have been on a studio and network listening tour in recent weeks, detailing the changes they’ve made and looking for ways to get back into the industry’s good graces. From what I hear, the group has been perhaps patting itself on the back a bit too hard, but they are at least aggressively trying to mend that fracture, caused both by the revelation of the HFPA’s lack of Black membership and ongoing questions over ethics, accountability and dubious practices inside the group.

I do hope they stick to a simple winners’ announcement, with no expectation of support from talent or industry executives for anything beyond that. A no-frills proclamation would allow everyone to save face, and gear things up for a full return to the Globes in 2023. There’s also, of course, the precedent of 2008, when the Writers Guild strike forced the Globes to also scrap their ceremony and go with a celebrity-free press conference rather than the usual pomp and circumstance.

The big difference this time is the necessary decision to eliminate any submissions requirements for this year’s awards, as well its former stipulation that exclusive screenings and talent press conferences be conducted for HFPA members before consideration. That silences the debate over whether studios and networks should be working with the HFPA in this off year — they don’t have to.

The vocal group of publicists who aren’t thrilled that their clients might be nominated for a Globe should just step back and worry about other things. This is the way it should be, always, with awards from reporters and critics. It’s not about who submitted what where; it should be about, quite simply, the critics’ picks for the best TV, film and music projects of the year.

Most critics’ awards and media “best of” lists are fully curated in-house, without any input from studio/network submissions. For example, the organization I’m a member of, the Television Critics Assn., has always been completely free of any formal submissions and is a true reflection of what the membership believes to be the best programming of the year. No one tells the TCA who or what is eligible and where they should be honored — the TCA figures it out on its own. (The Critics’ Choice Assn. requires submissions, but I think it should follow the TCA’s and HFPA’s lead and also remove any barrier to entry.) [UPDATE: I’ve been informed by CCA member Carissa Pavlica that although the org has a submissions process, it’s not required and non-submitted projects may still be included in deliberations.]

Critics and press associations aren’t academies, they aren’t guilds. There’s no reason there should be a submission fee or entry requirement before journalists select their picks for the best productions of the year. Sure, networks and studios can make suggestions on where they believe their programs or films should compete, and apparently the HFPA is still offering that as an option for any contenders. But it shouldn’t be a requirement to be considered for any honor by a journalistic organization.

“One thing that has remained consistent within the association is our passion for film and television,” Hoehne said in a statement to Variety. “While the format of the awards is yet to be determined, it was always our intention to celebrate and honor the best of the year.”

Let the HFPA announce this year’s Golden Globes winners — just please, keep it simple, don’t expect anyone to show up, and make sure that the truly best films and TV series are honored. In other words, do what an awards show is supposed to do, minus all this Sturm und Drang.

Disclosure: Variety parent company PMC is a partner with Boehly and MRC in the PMRC venture that owns Billboard, Vibe and the Hollywood Reporter. MRC produces the Golden Globe Awards through its MRC Live and Alternative division.

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