It was a really big deal this week that more than 100 of Hollywood’s most powerful public relations firms told the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. they would urge their high-profile clients to avoid working with the organization until it can “swiftly manifest profound and lasting change” to address its longtime discriminatory, unethical and corrupt practices.
“To reflect how urgent and necessary we feel this work is, we cannot advocate for our clients to participate in HFPA events or interviews as we await your explicit plans and timeline for transformational change,” the PR outfits said in a March 15 letter addressed to the president and board chair of the HFPA. “The eyes of the industry and those who support it are watching,” the letter concluded.
Time’s Up, which prior to the Feb. 28 Golden Globes broadcast called on the group to outline specific and transparent reform measures, concurred. “We agree that anything less than transparent, meaningful change will no longer be acceptable,” said Time’s Up president and CEO Tina Tchen. “The entire world is watching #TIMESUPGlobes.”
While the HFPA’s unscrupulous behavior has been the subject of countless press reports over the years, the Los Angeles Times’ recent exposé containing new revelations as well as what many in the community already knew — that HFPA counts only one Black journalist among its 87 members — spurred the current outcry.
So why did it take so long for any Hollywood power players to finally take a hard stand against the group? The explanation is clear: Studios, networks, streamers and publicists and their A-list clients have always turned the other cheek for obvious reasons — they want to win Globes and Oscars!
That’s why the letter from the industry’s most prominent publicists was so unprecedented and important.
But even the signatories know it’s not enough.
“We’re waiting for the cavalry,” a high-powered publicist told me. “We need the talent agencies, the streamers, the studios, the networks to be part of this. They need to step up.”
This week, the HFPA board pledged to increase its membership this year to at least 100, with a “requirement” that at least 13% will be Black journalists (Black people currently make up 13% of the U.S. population). “They still don’t comprehend what they need to do. Saying they’ll fill a quota — it’s offensive,” said a publicist who asked to remain anonymous.