HFPA Members Approve Sweeping Overhaul for Embattled Golden Globes Group (EXCLUSIVE)

·4-min read

The membership of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has approved its board’s plans to radically change the organization behind the Golden Globes.

Sources tell Variety that the membership voted on the proposals earlier Thursday. Seventy-two members voted to approve the board’s plan, and three members voted against it.

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“Today’s overwhelming vote to reform the Association reaffirms our commitment to change,” HFPA president Ali Sar said in a statement. “That’s why we’ve already taken some action that will allow us to make swift progress. Because we understand the urgency and issue of transparency, we will be continuously updating the members as we move forward in making our organization more inclusive and diverse. Again, we understand that the hard work starts now. We remain dedicated to becoming a better organization and an example of diversity, transparency and accountability in the industry.”

In a letter to its membership on Monday, the board introduced a plan to increase the number of people of color in its ranks. The plan also includes new restrictions on gifts that the members could receive and payments for work on their committees.

The moves come after weeks of scrutiny aimed at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Just before the Golden Globes, the Los Angeles Times published an exposé that reported there hadn’t been a Black member of the HFPA in at least 20 years. A group consisting of Hollywood’s most powerful publicists warned the HFPA that they would advise their clients not to work with the HFPA until it proved it was going to implement serious changes.

The board of the HFPA, made up of fewer than 90 people, said it wants to admit 20 new members in 2021, with a specific focus on recruiting Black members. It wants to increase the ranks by 50% over the next 18 months, with a stated goal of recruiting members from underrepresented groups. It’s unclear if the new measures will be enough to quell the firestorm that threatens to engulf the group and end one of the entertainment industry’s most-watched awards shows.

Dick Clark Productions, which produces the Globes, issued a statement after the vote. “We are pleased to see the members of the HFPA commit to this plan. It’s a big step in the right direction as they now turn to taking immediate steps to implement,” the statement reads. “The external advisors and many advocacy groups who have come to the table for an open dialogue are a vital part of the reimagination of the organization as we all march toward a more inclusive and transparent future.”

The National Association of Black Journalists also responded to the HFPA’s overhaul, writing: “NABJ is encouraged by the comprehensive plan billed by the organization as ‘transformational.’ However, the NABJ Board feels it is premature for full applause until there is documented implementation.” At the end of March, the NABJ held a meeting with the HFPA on diversity and inclusion, during which they discussed the steps that needed to be taken “to identify and eliminate exclusionary barriers preventing Black and other journalists of color from joining HFPA,” according to the NABJ website.

More than 100 public relations firms signed a letter warning the HFPA that they would advise their clients not to work with the organization unless serious reform was implemented.

The group’s most recent controversy including expelling longtime member and former president Phillip Berk after it was revealed that he quoted an article in an email to members that called the Black Lives Matter organization a “racist hate movement.” Berk had previously been accused of sexually assaulting actor Brendan Fraser, but was allowed to remain a member after the HFPA investigated the incident and determined it was a joke.

The organization said Thursday that there were immediate plans to find a vendor to set up a complaint hotel line, hire a search firm to compile a list of candidates to fill newly formed staff positions, identify new members to increase membership by 50% in the next 18 months, create a list of DEI consultants and retain Ropes & Gray to facilitate the reforms.

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