The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced the 79th Golden Globe Awards will take place on Jan. 9, with or without a telecast partner, but what does that mean?
Speaking to Variety, the gatekeepers of awards season say their understanding of what’s happening with the Globes is all over the map.
Last week, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced that it’s moving forward with the 79th annual Golden Globe Awards, even if it’s not televised. The organization also told studios that they had a Nov. 15 deadline to submit their films and television programs.
“Hell no, we’re not satisfied,” says one publicist that works at one of the 102 publicity firms that signed a letter back in March demanding for change within the organization, after a Los Angeles Times report revealed that the HFPA didn’t have a single Black member. “Anyone who is pretending that this is a new and improved HFPA hasn’t been listening to the multiple meetings they’ve held when they’re supposed to be talking about what they’re doing to change, but instead scream about the other groups not having Black people either.”
The same publicist went on to say, “If we let our clients go to the Globes. What does that say? The answer to their problems was adding six Black people? What about those sexist and racist members that are still in the organization? Weren’t they supposed to reapply? They haven’t done shit.”
On their website, the HFPA lists the 105 current members, which includes the 21 that were just added. An HFPA spokesperson says in a statement to Variety, “all current members had to be accredited, and their applications, which included the new requirement of eight verified clippings from an international media outlet for which they were paid, were viewed by independent, outside media professionals. Out of the 105 members in the HFPA now, three opted for emeritus status. All 105 members will have to reapply and be re-accredited by an outside credentials committee in the spring of ’22.”
Those who have been members for 20 years qualify for emeritus status. A member who has this status does not pay the yearly dues and will only be permitted to vote on the De Mille and Burnett awards.
The HFPA spokesperson goes on to say, “on some level, is it ever enough for anyone? We should all be striving to do more and be better all the time. We’ve had a lot of support from stakeholders in the industry and are proud of the changes we’ve implemented in the last six months. The HFPA has worked tirelessly to not only adopt changes but to implement them thoroughly. However, this will not be a quick process. It won’t be done just in a few months, nor even a year. Increasing diversity and accountability is not just a single campaign. It will be a multi-year process of change, which is why the HFPA and NAACP partnered on a five-year initiative to promote diversity in Hollywood. The HFPA is in it for the long run.”
Earlier this month, the HFPA unveiled that it has recruited 21 new members to increase its representation of diversity and inclusiveness, including six Black members. That brings up its total membership to 105.
Speaking to studio publicists, many share the same apprehension on submitting their films and talent for Globes consideration. One high-ranking studio publicist who asked to stay anonymous — because this person didn’t want their movies to be punished at the Globes — says, “We are still navigating it, but we’re leaving it up to the talent. In most cases, we won’t submit.”
Another leading awards publicist who works on multiple films during awards season shares they operate on what they call the “wait and see approach.”
But what if the Globes don’t get enough submissions? Will they still hold a ceremony on Jan. 9?
The HFPA spokesperson responded: “The HFPA believes as more of the Hollywood community is made aware of all of the changes that have been accomplished, there will be a recognition of the work that has been done and will continue to be done in a meaningful and honest way. In the 78-year history of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Golden Globes have never not been awarded. The HFPA didn’t stop for world wars or national tragedies, and canceling was never an option. It was always the intention of the HFPA to honor and recognize the best in film and television for 2021, and as part of our bylaw changes, our 21 new members are also eligible to vote.”
A high-ranking executive that asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution thinks the treatment of the HFPA has been unfair, saying, “they got railroaded.” After the publicists’ letter came out, many studios, including Amazon, Netflix and Warner Bros, severed ties until the changes were met. “Did they have problems?” the executive said. “Yes, but people wanted to get some good publicity and used them to do so. That’s not right.”
The HFPA has held multiple meetings over the last few weeks with a swath of studios, talent, publicists and numerous organizations focused on diversity. However, when asked if the Golden Globes have done enough, several publicists and studio personnel don’t think so. One shared, “It’s not enough, and this is way too soon.”
The messaging from the Globes has been muddled since the L.A. Times investigation into alleged self-dealing and the revelation that zero members were Black. On Mar. 15, the top publicity firms sent an open letter pressing for reform. On the same day, the HFPA promised to add at least 13 Black members to its ranks — a figure that it still hasn’t reached.
On May 10, NBC announced it would not air the 2022 Golden Globes.
The HFPA spokesperson says, “NBC has been supportive of our reforms. NBC has been kept apprised of all of our decisions and developments at multiple levels, and we’ve engaged in continued dialogue.”
On what a Golden Globe Awards show would even look like, the spokesperson says, “the format is yet to be determined.”
Disclosure: Variety parent company PMC is a partner with MRC in the PMRC venture that owns Billboard, Vibe and the Hollywood Reporter. MRC produces the Golden Globe Awards through its MRC Live and Alternative division.