The ever under siege Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who put on the annual Golden Globe Awards, announced in a statement today that one of their most cherished – and most ridiculed – staples of their existence, gifts, luxurious trips and other incentives from studios and networks, are no longer allowed.
As a part of the next step in their effort to rebuild their reputation, they are installing what they call “new gift, travel and conflict of interest policies. Under these new policies, HFPA members shall not be permitted to accept promotional materials or other gifts from studios, publicists, actors, directors or others associated with motion pictures and television programs.”
This last year the HFPA has been under the microscope of scrutiny following an initial story by the Los Angeles Times that detailed the organization’s questionable financial practices, as well as dismal record of diversity and representation, including an entire lack of Black members. While most of these were ‘open secrets’ in Hollywood, the reveal of just how lacking in diversity the group was opened the door of criticism in a way that had only been peripheral before. Adding fuel to the fire, Philip Berk, 88, had been a member of the HFPA for 44 years and its president for eight years. In a group email with HFPA members, Berk reportedly shared an article that described BLM as a “racist hate group.” In February 2021, Berk was also accused by actor Brendan Fraser of groping him in 2003 at a luncheon hosted by the association and that the HFPA denied his claim.
On May 20, HFPA members approved a new Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct. “We want to be clear that a fundamental pillar of our reform plan is accountability,” that statement read. “The HFPA condemns any and all forms of harassment, discrimination and abuse. Such behavior is unacceptable and disciplinary action will be taken for violations of our new Code. All members – both new and old — will be expected to follow this new code of conduct, and will be held accountable if they do not.”
NBC, who airs the Golden Globes, made the decision last month to not air the 2002 awards after the HFPA’s attempt at “transformational” changes came up short for the network. On Wednesday, an expanded reform plan was presented to the organization’s members for consideration. Todd Boehly, the chairman of Eldridge Industries, a holding group with assets that include Dick Clark Productions, who have produced the Golden Globes for decades, presented the comprehensive plan over Zoom. Its core components involve the speedy addition of 50 journalist voters to the current group of now about 80, with an emphasis on diversity; the creation of a spinoff, for-profit Golden Globes company in partnership with Eldridge that would be governed by a 15-member board; and tougher and more transparent requirements for re-accreditation as an HFPA member, which must be done annually.
The HPFA now says that its members “have completed virtually all of the reforms agreed upon in May — including establishing a functioning hotline, approving a new code of conduct, and bringing on trusted DEI advisors. We will continue to update the industry on our progress as we vote on new bylaws that will create an inclusive, diverse, and accountable organization — one that our members, stakeholders, and partners will be proud of.”
Here is the full statement from the HFPA:
“The HFPA remains dedicated to the transformational change it outlined in its May reform plan and timeline. Yesterday, the organization put several more key pieces in place to move forward with reform.
HFPA membership approved the draft bylaws for a final vote with no amendments, demonstrating its continued commitment to foundational change. Official ballots will now go out via mail to the membership, with a final vote tally in early August.
The HFPA also approved new gift, travel and conflict of interest policies. Under these new policies, HFPA members shall not be permitted to accept promotional materials or other gifts from studios, publicists, actors, directors or others associated with motion pictures and television programs.
With these updates, our members have completed virtually all of the reforms agreed upon in May — including establishing a functioning hotline (with grievances to be investigated by an outside group), approving a new code of conduct, and bringing on trusted DEI advisors.
We will continue to update the industry on our progress as we vote on new bylaws that will create an inclusive, diverse, and accountable organization — one that our members, stakeholders, and partners will be proud of.”
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