Publicity firm leaving awards ceremony after 17 years

The Michael Russell Group has parted with the Golden Globes and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. after 17 years of overseeing publicity for the event.

Michael Russell, president of MRG, said the October 2009 ending of the group’s three-year contract with HFPA was an opportunity for the company to reflect on its next direction.

“It’s been a wonderful 17 years, and we’ve enjoyed it immensely,” he said, “but the Hollywood Foreign Press is a nonprofit organization. They’ve given away a lot of money to charity — $10 million in the last 15 years, but the workload has increased dramatically over the years, and unfortunately our fees have not.”

The company said it is looking toward working with five producers of indie pics as well as a new lineup of people and projects for its Los Angeles and Gotham offices.

The praisers are working on the documentary “Under Our Skin” and indie feature “Down for Life” as well as a roster of other entertainment-related accounts.

MRG plans to become more involved with producers and studios, harking back to Russell’s days as a marketing exec at Disney, Par, Fox and Orion.

“My first love is motion pictures,” Russell said. “… That’s one thing that I’m sure will be of great interest as our group continues.”

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