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Global journos struggle like all scribes on beat

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Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. president Aida Takla-O’Reilly says one of the biggest issues the organization faces today, as distinct from when she joined in the late 1960s, is one of access.

Namely, getting face time with talent.

“When I first came (to America), I could individually ask for an interview with Laurence Olivier and Rock Hudson. It was granted to me very easily,” Takla-O’Reilly recalls. “Now it’s very difficult with the publicists surrounding them.”

Based out of West Hollywood, Calif., the org’s goals have long been twofold. The first is to produce an internationally targeted awards ceremony that kicks off the annual awards season in earnest.

The licensing coin from the kudocast funds the HFPA’s philanthropic efforts for the year. In 2012, it gave more than $1.2 million to efforts ranging from the Film Foundation’s restoration of Federico Fellini’s “La Strada” to university film programs nationwide.

Its second goal is to form a network for its members reporting on the entertainment industry as Southern California correspondents for global outlets, providing support in numbers. It’s this function that has grown more problematic with time.

Mario Amaya, an HFPA member since 2006 reporting for Colombian newspapers, echoes Takla-O’Reilly’s sentiment, suggesting that even though marketing efforts and box office interest from studios has become increasingly international, it doesn’t necessarily make their job as overseas journalists any easier.

Studios “have to prioritize between domestic and international” attention in marketing and seeking press, says Amaya, who adds that HFPA members sometimes get short shrift.

In courting overseas press, studios seem to value on-camera time more even if HFPA foreign correspondents are right in Hollywood’s back yard.

Though this added challenge in the way HFPA members are able to do their jobs may be at the forefront of their minds, it is not the sole substantive change Takla-O’Reilly has observed.

When she joined almost 50 years ago, Takla-O’Reilly says meetings and even press conferences routinely occurred in members’ homes. At the time, much of the HFPA’s membership consisted of spouses and relatives of foreign diplomats. Joining was easy as the HFPA was eager to add to their ranks.

Today, membership decisions are made with different considerations in mind. The org makes an effort to limit the number of journalists covering the same market to reduce competition among its members. The HFPA is slim at approximately 90 members, making it a small but influential group.

As the nature of film distribution becomes increasingly international, so too does the nature of the Golden Globes for which the HFPA is famed. The kudocast, a product of Dick Clark Prods., is broadcast in almost 200 countries worldwide.

And cognizant of that scale of distribution Takla-O’Reilly says last year marked a new effort to court that international audience in a proactive way.

For the most recent Golden Globes, the HFPA invited Japanese rock star Yoshiki to write the theme, piquing the interest of fans of his band X Japan both in the States and abroad. It’s too soon to say if the org will make a similar move with its upcoming show.

Catering to Stateside viewers in recent years has been another task. The ceremony hit a ratings stride on NBC with comedian Ricky Gervais returning as host and almost 17 million viewers in January.

The HFPA is hoping for similar appeal for 2013’s broadcast, which will hinge on the chemistry between “Saturday Night Live” alums Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Golden Globes Preview
Poehler pals with her Fey accompli | Global journos struggle like all scribes on beat | HFPA, Dick Clark Prods. still have unresolved issues | Globes’ glow impacts pic’s Oscar placement | New television perfs unearthed

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