Less than a week after the Hollywood Foreign Press Association circulated a letter to Hollywood publicists insisting it was committed to diversifying and addressing longstanding criticisms of the organization, Variety has learned that a group of top publicity firms plan to formally warn the HFPA that they expect to see tangible changes.
The letter, which is still being drafted, will inform the organization behind the Golden Globe Awards that publicists will advise their clients not to take part in HFPA press conferences or interviews until the group proves it has a plan for transforming practices that have recently come under scrutiny, including the fact that the press association has not had any Black members since at least 2002.
The letter to be signed by representatives from an array of publicity and communications firms has been going through several revisions during the past few days through conference calls and Zoom sessions. It’s been distributed to about 100 publicity firms.
The HFPA declined to comment on the matter, referring to the group’s past statements about its commitment to change. The organization recently hired diversity consultants and is said to be in the process of setting up meetings with advocacy groups and others in an effort to demonstrate its willingness to listen to outside voices.
Final signatures are still being collected, but some of the PR firms already on board are said to include ID, Viewpoint, The Lede Company, True Public Relations, Shelter PR, Relevant, Kovert Creative, Rogers & Cowan PMK, Narrative, ImPRint, Slate PR, Independent Public Relations, Wolf Kasteler Public Relations, RMG, The Chambers Group, The Collins Jackson Agency, Ascend PR Group, Red Sea Entertainment and SYE Publicity.
“They’ve got to change,” said one publicist. “Will they? We’re not sure. But we hope this pushes them even more. If our clients won’t work with them, then there is no HFPA. If there’s no HFPA then there’s no Golden Globes.”
A source close to NBC and Dick Clark Productions says the network and producers support the publicists’ efforts to push the HFPA to make serious changes. NBC and Dick Clark have longstanding contracts with the HFPA to produce and broadcast the Golden Globes.
Critics of the HFPA have long slammed the organization as having way too much power in relation to its size – there are less than 90 members. The HFPA came under the microscope last month in an investigative report by the Los Angeles Times that questioned the non-profit group compensation practices for the members involved in awards judging and other association functions. The HFPA for years has garnered criticism for taking part in lavish junkets and receiving other perks from studios and networks in the hunt for Golden Globe trophies.
In the wake of the Times report, the HFPA vowed to address the issue of diversity in its ranks and questions about who qualifies for membership. On March 9, Times Up released a series of recommendations to the HFPA, including the resignation of all current HFPA members. Hours later, the HFPA announced it hired expert diversity advisors Dr. Shaun Harper and Ropes & Gray’s Alex Rene, Morey Ward and James Down help change the organization.
Matt Donnelly and Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.