At the center of the legal tangle over the rights to the Golden Globe Awards is a short contract clause that, in the eyes of longtime producer Dick Clark Prods., allows the company to negotiate with NBC even without the approval of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.
The HFPA is suing the Dick Clark company and its parent, Red Zone Capital Partners, claiming the companies extended a licensing agreement with NBC to broadcast the Golden Globes through 2018 “without their consent or authorization.”
Dick Clark Prods., which has produced the show since 1983, is asking the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to dismiss the suit, arguing that the language of a 1993 amendment to their contract is clear. Company cites a clause that says the amendment gave Dick Clark options on the show through 2005, but also “for any extensions, renewals, substitutions or modifications of the NBC agreement, and to exploit such productions in all media throughout the world in perpetuity.”
“Because the HFPA no longer likes the deal it made, it alleges that the parties’ agreement means something other than what it plainly says,” Dick Clark and Red Zone say in their motion to dismiss, which was filed Friday.
The lawsuit does not affect this year’s ceremony, which is scheduled to take place Sunday at the Beverly Hilton, but it raises doubt as to what might happen in future years.
The HFPA’s lawsuit, filed in November, made public simmering tensions between the org and its production company, which appear to have come to a head when Dick Clark secured a new agreement with NBC on Oct. 29 that extends the Peacock’s broadcast rights to 2018. But the HFPA said the agreement was made “surreptitiously,” and it had “specifically instructed” Dick Clark Prods. not to discuss television broadcast rights until the HFPA could extend its agreement with the Clark company.
A spokesman for the HFPA said the motion to dismiss “is an entirely predictable part of the process. We will be filing our opposition to it at the end of the month and we are confident that we will prevail.”
Dick Clark Prods. was sold to Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and his Red Zone Capital in 2007.
The HFPA’s suit also charged Dick Clark Prods. “has taken great liberties” in its accounting for revenue from the telecast, and that it had sought to pursue agreements for digital rights and sponsorships even though it did not have the right to do so.
But the HFPA says the contract language, which appears to give Dick Clark Prods. enduring rights to produce the show as long as it was broadcast on NBC, was a “mistake” that should be rectified by inserting new language explicitly giving the org veto power over licensing deals.
Moreover, the HFPA has said the intent of the clause never was to give Dick Clark Prods. “such unlimited and unchecked rights.” The org says the clause was not even at issue until Dick Clark Prods. informed the HFPA on Oct. 29 that it was making the NBC deal, which the HFPA says was “inconsistent” with its understanding that its consent was required.
Dick Clark Prods., however, says such “extrinsic” evidence, “even if true and construed in the manner suggested by the HFPA, would impermissibly contradict the language in the parties’ contractual documents and, therefore, cannot prevent dismissal of its claims.”