HFPA Members Call on Board to Resign as Golden Globes Diversity Crisis Rages (Exclusive)

Beatrice Verhoeven
·4-min read

Members of the embattled Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the powerful group behind the Golden Globes that has come under fire for a lack of diversity, are calling for the resignation of top board members as well as its COO Greg Goeckner, TheWrap has learned.

At least three members have sent separate emails to the board of directors accusing the HFPA’s current leadership of “incompetence” – as one put it – in handling the recent outcry over the group’s lack of Black members and what they view as lack of action to address the issues, four insiders told TheWrap.

According to two insiders, the HFPA members are seeking the ouster of three top members: Chair Meher Tatna, President Ali Sar and Vice President Helen Hoehne — all three of whom took the stage during the Golden Globes ceremony two weeks ago to address the group’s lack of diversity. Two of the sources said the emails also sought the resignation of Goeckner, who is the association’s generous counsel in addition to COO.

“There’s a feeling we need a fresh start,” said one member, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It is time for change. Especially what has happened in last three, four years. It’s time to get the broom out of the closet.” The member was referring to financial self-dealing on the part of HFPA members, which was outlined in an expose in the LLos Angeles Times.

When asked about the resignation demand, a spokesperson for the HFPA referred TheWrap to its statement on Saturday committing to “transformational change.”

The resignation demand emails have not received a response from the board, the insiders said, but one said there is an emergency member meeting scheduled for Tuesday to address the recent backlash, among other issues.

Another insider complained that the membership was blindsided by the statement released on Saturday committing to “transformational change… in consultation with outside advisors,” and outlining a number of specific steps that were underway, including hiring an outside law firm to “ensure we are aligned with and exceed industry best practices in other critical areas,” as the statement said.

Also Read: Inside Golden Globes' Diversity Promise: Too Late for Meaningful Change?

The campaign to reform the group may be thwarted by the HFPA’s own bylaws, another insider noted, since the group lacks any mechanism for the members to intervene and only elected officials and the COO can make substantive changes.

Goeckner joined the HFPA in 2013 after leaving his position as a general counsel of the Motion Picture Association of America. Goeckner did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Recent reports by the Los Angeles Times and New York Times noted that the 87-member group doesn’t have a single Black member, despite the push for diversity in Hollywood since the #OscarsSoWhite campaign launched in 2015. As far back as 2013, TheWrap reported that a Black applicant from the U.K. was rejected by an overwhelming vote. However, observers say the recent Black Lives Matter movement has made the focus on the lack of Black members impossible to ignore in 2021.

Just days before last month’s ceremony, the Time’s Up organization launched a #TimesUpGlobes protest campaign over the group’s lack of diversity. Hollywood bigwigs like Ava DuVernay, Judd Apatow and Shonda Rhimes joined in posting statements calling on the organization to make a commitment to diversify.

Also Read: HFPA Commits to 'Transformational Change' to Overcome Diversity Problems

During the Golden Globes ceremony on Feb. 28, the jokes started out early, with co-host Tina Fey blasting the HFPA’s “around 90 international no black journalists.” Amy Poehler then added, “We say around 90 because a couple of them might be ghosts.”

Many actors — including Jane Fonda, Sacha Baron Cohen and Dan Levy — followed suit with comments during the presenting of or acceptances of awards.

HFPA’s membership is majority female, and only 35% of its members are from non-European countries around the world.

Watch the video of HFPA top executives committing to diversity at this year’s Golden Globes.

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