HFPA hosts installation luncheon

Org gives $750,000 in grants to film schools

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. handed out more than $750,000 in grant coin to film schools and nonprofit orgs Wednesday at its annual installation luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Still, it’s clear that the scuttling of this year’s Golden Globe Awards gala took a toll on the HFPA’s grant bankroll — the org gave out more than $1.2 million in grants in 2007.

This year it had to forgo the estimated $6 million license fee for the awards telecast from NBC. The Globes’ traditional January awards dinner was hastily canceled because of the writers strike and top thesps’ unwillingness to cross a WGA picket line to attend.

HFPA brass accentuated the positive during the luncheon without dwelling on the drama that enveloped this year’s Globes. Thesps Aaron Eckhart, Jon Hamm and Ludacris were on hand Wednesday to present the grant coin.

Also during the luncheon, Daily Variety associate publisher Brian Gott presented HFPA prexy Jorge Camara with a $20,000 check for the org’s endowment fund.

Hamm, who earned a Globe this year for his lead role in AMC’s “Mad Men,” joked that every time the HFPA invites him out for an event, some catastrophic event occurs.

“First it was the writers strike that cancelled the Globes, and now it’s the earthquake,” he said. “I just want to apologize ahead of time for the inevitable hotel fire that is bound to occur after the event.”

Other celebs were on hand to deliver acceptance remarks on behalf of orgs they are associated with, including Rosario Dawson (Independent Feature Project), Dakota Fanning (California State Summer School Arts Foundation) and Rosie Perez (Inner-City Arts).

“What separates a privileged child from an underprivileged child is opportunity,” Perez said. “Once you give that child the opportunity, they will always rise to the occasion.”

All told, HFPA gave out 25 grants, including $66,000 to Cal State Northridge’s Dept. of Cinema and Television Arts; $60,000 to CalArts; and $100,000 to the Sundance Institute.

HFPA’s re-elected prexy Camara also introduced the org’s slate of re-elected officers: VP Mike Goodridge, executive secretary Serge Rakhlin and treasurer Meher Tatna.

The HFPA’s new board of directors were also acknowledged: Mahfouz Doss, who was re-elected chairman, plus Erkki Kanto, Lilly Lui, Paz Mata, Frances Schoenberger and alternate Armando Gallo.

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