The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is putting itself on the auction block, courting buyers for the embattled organization that hands out the annual Golden Globe Awards.
The HFPA’s interim CEO, Todd Boehly, has been angling to buy the organization and is in the process of negotiating with the HFPA board. As a result of Boehly’s bid from his Eldridge Industries banner, the organization opted to begin a process to determine what other interest may be out there.
The HFPA on Friday announced that it has formed a special committee within the nonprofit organization “to determine potential outside strategic interest in its organization and assets.” The end game is “optimizing the value of the HFPA’s various assets and continue to enhance the organization’s position in the marketplace while strengthening its relationships with various stakeholders,” HFPA stated.
Boehly’s interest in HFPA comes in no small part because Eldridge Industries is also invested in the Golden Globe Awards through its ownership of MRC Live and Alternative (formerly Dick Clark Productions), which has had a long and occasionally fraught business partnership with the West Hollywood-based press association.
“As we announced last year, the HFPA began a process of change and transformation addressing issues of diversity, governance and conduct. As we continue that process, we have moved into the phase of determining the best course of action regarding the accomplishment of the HFPA’s mission, including how to achieve the optimal financial and commercial growth for the Golden Globe brand in the future,” said Helen Hoehne, president of the HFPA. “The board of directors has appointed an independent committee to work with our financial and legal advisors to review proposals from any interested parties in such phase.”
The HFPA’s statement cited its negotiations with Boehly and said that at least one other potential bidder has approached, which prompted them to begin a formal process. The special committee is working with the HFPA’s three outside independent directors — Sharlette Hambrick, Jeff Harris and Joanna Massey — and financial advisor Houlihan Lokey, among other legal advisors.
“The decision to create a special independent committee, which will work collaboratively with financial and legal advisors follows our previously stated commitment to adhere to good governance practices and transparency in our actions,” Hoehne said. The HFPA sought to reinforce that a deal with Boehly is not a fait accompli, despite his proximity to the organization.
“The HFPA is committed to a thorough and swift review of its potential strategic alternatives to identify a path forward that is in its best interests. At this time, the Special Committee has not reached any conclusion, and there can be no assurance the review will result in any transaction or other strategic change or outcome,” the HFPA stated.
The HFPA’s move comes after more than a year of turmoil for the nearly 80-year-old press organization that has thrived over the past 25 years on lucrative fees from NBCUniversal and other partners for the Golden Globe Awards. The famously insular organization came under fire early last year following an expose by the Los Angeles Times about potential financial improprieties, as well as the absence of any Black members in the group.
Moreover, the HFPA was faced a new round of criticism of its governance and practices around awards season. NBC pulled the plug on the 2022 telecast of the Globes after the Times reported details of members receiving unusually high fees for awards judging and other routine practices. Amid an industry backlash, the industry’s top personal publicists banded together to keep their clients out of the Globes competition, in an effort to prod the organization to make substantial reforms and to expand its membership base. Boehly, who is chairman of MRC, was named interim CEO of HFPA last November.
Other than handing out statuettes in January, the HFPA is known for its using its charitable giving to entertainment-related causes and organizations around the world. The org states it has donated more than $50 million to more than 70 “charities, film restoration, scholarship programs and humanitarian efforts” over the past 30 years.
(Disclosure: Variety parent company PMC is a partner with MRC in the PMRC venture that owns Billboard, Vibe and the Hollywood Reporter.)