The scandal-hit Golden Globes Awards are to return to TV screens to mark their eightieth anniversary next January. The American TV network NBC cancelled the show this year, after it emerged that there were no African American members in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which organises the awards.
They’ll return to their familiar venue of the Beverly Hilton hotel, on Tuesday 10th January. The event was typically held on a Sunday, but it’s been moved to a weekday slot because sporting events and a rival film awards ceremony have already taken the first three Sundays of January.
The Globes were always the traditional curtain-raiser of Hollywood’s film awards season – second in stature only to the Oscars. Nomination for a Golden Globe was seen as a boost for stars, hoping to feature at the Academy Awards.
But when it emerged – in February last year – that none of the ninety-or-so voters was black and American media published reports of bribery and sexism, Hollywood turned its back on the organisers; studios and publicists boycotted the members, stars spoke out against the organisation and Tom Cruise returned his three awards.
During an extensive programme of reforms, the HFPA took on the American billionaire Todd Boehly – who owns the LA Dodgers and has since taken ownership of Chelsea Football Club – as its CEO. It went on to accept 21 new members, including 6 black figures from the entertainment industry.
This summer, Boehly took ownership of the HFPA itself, through his company Eldridge Industries, after members – previously accused of accepting bribes – accepted his offer of a salary – understood to be $75,000 for five years – to vote in upcoming awards ceremonies, in exchange for giving him control of the Golden Globes brand. The organisation has also taken on about a hundred new voters from outside the organisation – indeed, from outside the US; they won’t receive salaries for voting.
In a statement, NBC said it recognised the HFPA’s commitment to ongoing change and looked forward to welcoming the Golden Globes back. The HFPA’s President, Helen Hoehne said it was great to be back at the Beverly Hilton – which is part-owned by Boehly’s Eldridge Industries – for what she called the “must-see celebration recognising the best in film and television.” And she stressed that the HFPA remained “committed to important changes and supporting programs which prioritise diversity, inclusion, and transparency.”
Adam Stotsky, the President of the awards show producer, Dick Clark Productions – which is also owned by Boehly’s Eldridge Industries – said “We have seen first-hand the dedication of the HFPA as it continues to modernise and act on its important mission.”
The show’s return comes as many studios and publicists appear to be softening their public opposition to the HFPA; they’re understood to miss the boost that appearing at the Golden Globes show gives to their Oscar campaigns, the box office performance of their films and the profile of their stars.
After the announcement, the news was the top story on the main entertainment industry news publications, Variety and Hollywood Reporter, both of which are owned by Todd Boehly, through Eldridge Industries.
But the development does not appear to be a ringing endorsement of progress at the HFPA by NBC, which previously had an 8 year deal to screen the ceremony. The new arrangement will apply only to next year’s show, suggesting a deal has been done to bring the 2018 arrangement to an end three years early.
What happens after that has not been decided. But while the Golden Globes appear to have been brought in from the cold for now, it remains to be seen whether they can reclaim the respect they once had over the longer term. Before this year’s campaign even begins, any film that’s already been released this year will be at a disadvantage because many members won’t have seen them, as a result of the publicists’ boycott. And unless the boycott is formally lifted, HFPA voting members won’t have the opportunity to see any of the upcoming releases they’re meant to be voting on, damaging the credibility of these next awards.
And their reputation won’t be helped by ongoing controversies involving the HFPA; as part of their efforts to present a more inclusive, more transparent organisation, they have recently expelled an Arab member after he launched legal action against them, accusing two board members of sexually harassing him in public.