New filing to stop NBC deal

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. maintains that Dick Clark Prods. interpretation of their contract agreement for the Golden Globe Awards is “not credible” in the latest filing in its legal battle with the kudocast’s longtime producer.

At stake is just who will produce the 2012 ceremony and where it will air.

“No organization with a 50-year track record would ever agree to release all of its rights and control over its sole asset, especially if that asset is the basis for the organization’s existence in the first place,” the HFPA said in a brief filed last Monday by its lead attorney, Linda Smith of O’Melveny & Myers.

With its previous pact with NBC expiring after last month’s telecast, the Dick Clark company in October negotiated a new contract that gives the Peacock rights to air the Globes through 2018. The Clark company claims that it was well within its rights to do so, even without the HFPA’s permission, under the terms of a 1993 contract provision.

But the HFPA sued Dick Clark in November, claiming that it was trying to wrest control of its most valuable asset.

The contract provision in question granted Dick Clark “eight (8) additional, consecutive, and irrevocable options to acquire the exclusive right to produce” the telecast from 1998 to 2005, but it also contained a clause “for any extensions, renewals, substitutions or modifications of the NBC Agreement, and to exploit such productions in all media throughout the world in perpetuity.”

As the Dick Clark company suggests, as long as they negotiate a deal with NBC, they have the rights to produce the telecast. Yet the HFPA says the words “extensions, renewals, substitutions or modifications” are not a separate grant of “unlimited additional options.”

The contract provision, the HFPA says, was “hurriedly signed” in 1993 as Clark and his company were was seeking to land NBC to broadcast the ceremony, an upgrade in both the audience and stature of the show after years on TBS. The HFPA says at the time, the provision was included to give Clark some flexibility in his negotiations with NBC — not to gain perpetual rights to the show.

The org said the “mutually shared understanding” of the contract provision was borne out in the way that a renewal of the NBC deal was done in 2001, exercised with the HFPA’s consultation.

The relationship with Dick Clark Prods. changed when Red Zone Capital Partners, the company controlled by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, acquired the company in 2007. The HFPA says it was “completely blindsided” by the new NBC deal.

Dick Clark Prods. is seeking to have the HFPA’s suit thrown out, and a hearing is scheduled for March 7 before U.S. District Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank.

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