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The New York TimesPerhaps the most victorious of the Golden Globes are those who deliver them
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has generally been viewed as picturesque and harmless, perhaps corrupt, and not necessarily journalistically productive. But as the group organizes the Golden Globes, courting its members – there are only 87 of them – has become a ritualized goal in the movie mecca. Celebrities send them handwritten Christmas cards. The studios host them in five-star hotels. Champagne, expensive wine, signed artwork, cashmere blankets, slippers, record players, cakes, headphones and speakers are among the gifts that have arrived at their doors, according to recipients. The suitors — studios, producers, strategists, and advertisers — pursue the same goal: affiliate votes. Each one counts. A Golden Globe nomination, and certainly a victory, is an advertising advantage that can boost careers, increase box office revenue and herald an academy award. The Golden Globes are the third-most-watched awards show, after the Grammys and the Academy Awards, which are much more low-key. The show occupies a curious place in the entertainment industry. Making fun of the Balloons, and their sometimes outrageous nominations and choices, has become an annual bloody sport for the Hollywood press, who coverage them anyway, and the association’s members, many of whom work for Little-known media are often described as fearful, out of the loop and slightly corrupt. “The Golden Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton,” said Ricky Gervais, who has hosted the presentation several times, at the 2012 ceremony. “A little louder. A little more vulgar. A little more alcoholic. And they are easier to buy, supposedly. Nothing has been proven ”. However, on the eve of the Feb. 28 show, a recent lawsuit and a series of interviews and financial records are providing a more stark look at the group, which does not go public with its list of members, admits very few applicants, and despite Being a media association, it has some members who say they are afraid to speak to the press. The group is also coming under increased scrutiny from news organizations, including the Los Angeles Times, which recently investigated its finances; one of their findings, that the group has no black members, made headlines. The most recent reexamination began last year, when Kjersti Flaa, a Norwegian reporter who has been denied admission to the group three times and whose romantic partner is a member of the HFPA, sued the organization, alleging that she acts as a monopoly, because it monopolizes precious interviews despite the fact that relatively few of its members worked as active journalists. The studios came together to ingratiate themselves, he said, because of the value of members’ votes. “It is very obvious who is important to the studies and who is not,” Flaa said in an interview. “And the thing is, nobody has said anything about this before. It has simply been accepted ”. Members are territorial and reluctant to welcome competitors, he claimed, and pressure each other to allow or deny entry to new applicants, without much regard for journalistic merits. Flaa referred to an altercation with a Russian member who in 2015 was accused of demanding that a Ukrainian hopeful not write for any Russian media and to hand over her additional Golden Globes tickets – and guarantee her promise in a notarized letter – to change to be considered for admission. Flaa said that outsiders had a nickname for the association: the cartel. The HFPA declined to comment specifically on the 2015 incident, but Gregory Goeckner, the association’s chief operating officer and general counsel, said such actions were prohibited and that in 2018 its board of directors approved a policy confirming that any letter from that type was “null and unenforceable.” Goeckner also described Flaa’s accusations as “salacious” and said that it was the studios, and not the association, that made the decisions about access to the press. A judge dismissed most of Flaa’s claim, but she has recently modified it and another journalist who has also been denied entry to the association has joined her claim. Several members and former members of the association said Flaa’s accounts of internal machinations were true, but asked to remain anonymous because they said they feared retaliation from the group. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association was born in the 1940s, when foreign correspondents covering Hollywood news teamed up to gain access to movie stars. The Globes recognize film and television, and they are full of stars, without any boring categories: there is no award for sound editing, for example. As the awards industry complex grew – now it’s a year-round business, shaped by strategists, and closely followed by journalists – the relative power of members also grew. After the awards began to be broadcast on television, she became a golden goose. In 2018, NBC agreed to pay $ 60 million a year for broadcast rights, roughly triple the previous license fee. While the Academy Awards and Emmys have lost millions of viewers in recent years, the Golden Globes audience has held steady between eighteen and twenty million, for which NBC was willing to shell out. “This is a huge television show and, as such, very valuable to film campaigns aiming for Oscar nominations and victories,” Tony Angellotti, a publicist who runs awards campaigns, explains in an email. “And the HFPA’s track record for identifying worthy movies is indisputable. That is something important ”. In order to vote at the Golden Globes, members must make at least six posts a year and attend 25 of the association’s press conferences, to which celebrities and high-profile individuals are invited, several members confirmed. If members want to travel to film festivals at association expenses, they have to attend more press conferences, according to a copy of the travel policies reviewed by The New York Times. The rules say they don’t have to show any travel-related press clipping if they make five or fewer trips. Being a non-profit organization, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is also tax-exempt. The presentation for the fiscal year that ended in June 2019 showed the group had about $ 55 million in cash. He donated nearly $ 5 million to various causes, including $ 500,000 to the Reporters Committee for Press Freedom and $ 500,000 to the environmental site Inside Climate News. “The funding was very important,” David Sassoon, founder and editor of Inside Climate News, said by email. “It solidified our finances and helped us get through the nightmares of 2020.” According to tax returns, the tax-exempt non-profit organization paid more than $ 3 million in salaries and other compensation to members and staff. The tax return also showed $ 1.3 million in travel expenses for that year; the association has said that it normally pays the expenses of members looking to travel to film festivals and similar events. Goeckner said the association only pays members when they do extra work and basically serve as employees, performing tasks that would constitute paid work elsewhere. The remuneration, he said, was “an order of magnitude lower” than what similar organizations pay. And he noted that the group “is not a charity” and that its accumulated capital is earmarked for a planned upgrade of its West Hollywood headquarters. The group’s stated mission is basically to help strengthen ties between the United States and foreign countries by covering their culture and entertainment industry. However, it has come under continuous criticism when puzzling awards have been awarded, the most infamous in 1982, when Pia Zadora was named best new star over Kathleen Turner and Elizabeth McGovern. Later, it emerged that Zadora’s producer, who was also her husband, had brought the group to Las Vegas before the vote. CBS, which was running the show, dropped its broadcast and it would be years before it returned to pay television. In 2014, a former president of the association published an autobiography in which he suggested that his colleagues could be persuaded by the exchange of favors. The association has tried to rehabilitate its image in recent years. In 1999, he returned the $ 400 Coach watches given to its members by a film company, and in 2016, he asked members to return part of the gift of a Tom Ford brand fragrance sent to them by the producers of “Nocturnal Animals. ”. Currently, members must not accept gifts in excess of $ 125. (The group says it has adopted a “stronger” gift policy.) Still, they can be courted. For some, it wasn’t much of a surprise when the frivolous series “Emily in Paris” – which garnered decidedly mixed reviews – garnered two Golden Globe nominations this year. In September 2019, dozens of association members flew to Paris to visit the set of the series and were accommodated at the five-star The Peninsula hotel, courtesy of Paramount. This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company