Judge rules HFPA case will go to trial

Court proceedings to start Aug. 30

The battle over the rights to the Golden Globes is heading to trial later this month.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank ruled there were “numerous genuine disputes of material fact” in the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s case against Dick Clark Prods. In an order issued Tuesday, she denied most of the summary judgment motions from both sides of the dispute, which centers on a 1993 pact that appeared to give DCP “perpetual rights” to produce the telecast as long as they could land a broadcast deal with NBC.

The HFPA sued DCP in November, claiming that it did not have the right to forge a new long-term contract with NBC last October without its consent. The agreement was to start next year and run through 2018.

The trial is scheduled to start Aug. 30.

The case is expected to center on whether the parties in 1993 “validly entered into a contract term for unlimited, unilateral extensions,” as Fairbank wrote in her opinion.

A trial will undoubtedly highlight friction between the HFPA and its longtime producer, but it also stands to bring to the fore past disputes between the press org’s members.

The HFPA claims that in 1993, its then-president, Mirjana Van Blaricom, did not have the authority to sign an agreement with such a “perpetual rights” clause. The org claims that DCP’s president, Francis La Maina, represented to the members at a 1993 meeting that the contract gave Dick Clark Prods. a finite number of options. For her part, Van Blaricom, who started her own rival press association in the mid-1990s, has said that she had authority to sign the agreement.

Fairbank also noted that the parties “genuinely dispute” whether the HFPA followed its own bylaws in executing contracts.

She wrote the interpretation of the contract will require “assessing the credibility of numerous pieces of conflicting evidence,” including whether Van Blaricom and La Maina discussed the disputed provision and “the parties’ intent in advance of executing the contract.”

Also to be weighed is whether DCP’s exercise of options in 2001 gave validity to its interpretation of the 1993 pact — or if it means just the opposite. In dispute is whether the HFPA’s board and membership approved the NBC deal in 2001.DCP said in a statement, “We are gratified the judge agreed with us in connection to the reformation claim and we’re looking forward to addressing the remaining factual issues. We firmly believe our position will be vindicated as we were within our contract rights to make the NBC deal. The HFPA knows this all too well and is simply trying to rewrite the contract through litigation.”

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety