Golden Globe winner: “Crisis was needed to make change”

Golden Globes’ return to NBC on January 10 isn’t just its 80th anniversary of the award ceremony, but the long journey of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. to improve his image and return to the grace of Hollywood.

It also highlights how dramatically the group has changed under billionaire Todd Boehly, the chairman and new owner of private equity firm Eldridge Industries, the parent company of longtime Golden Globe producer Dick Clark Productions.

Earlier this year, Dodgers co-owner Boehly made headlines with a record $4.93 billion purchase of Premier League football club Chelsea FC.

No longer a non-profit group of foreign entertainment journalists, its 96 members (including those with honorary status) The nonprofit startups are now paid employees of the Golden Globe Association under the Eldridge umbrella.

According to a copy of the employment contract reviewed, they will earn $75,000 per year for showing films and television series submitted for Golden Globe consideration, voting for nominees and winners, writing content for the organization’s website, and editing materials for the awards ceremony and the band’s history. by The Times.

Under the new plan, the association’s tax-exempt status will be terminated, giving new association members an “opportunity to share profits.” The new private entity will manage the Golden Globe assets while maintaining its philanthropic and philanthropic programs in a separate nonprofit. The plan still needs to be approved by the California attorney general.

In an interview with The Times, Boehly said the changes were necessary steps.

“We had a combination of a sense of power that was changing, challenging governance, and ultimately the disastrous sense we all witnessed,” Boehly said. “And it took a crisis to make change.”

In September, the HFPA greatly expanded the group’s diversity and geographic reach by adding 103 international non-member voters. This constituency will not be paid, which will essentially create a two-tier system.

Boehly, who became the group’s interim CEO last year, said he expects the number of international voters to grow “less dependent on existing members” as he expands the overall voting pool and the organization’s global presence. He said that the goal, in his own words, is to create “worldwide events under the Golden Globe brand”.

Proponents of the new installation say it is a way to replace the old corrupt system where some members took paid journalistic posts based on exclusive access granted to the HFPA through screenings, press conferences and other events.

By providing five-year guaranteed salaries as well as benefits such as medical and dental, accrued vacations and bonuses, Boehly has the rationale that it can exert a greater level of control over members, eliminating special access requests that have become a point. contention for many in the industry.

“Doing it now [members] “By not relying on press conferences, I’m removing the kind of conflicts of interest embedded in the organization that may have created an opportunity to be swayed by things other than just being original and having real integrity,” Boehly said.

He also said that the nonprofit structure would allow the organization to adapt and operate with the kind of accountability, governance and flexibility that the HFPA lacks.

Industry critics, including several Hollywood broadcasters, have long complained that HFPA’s influence in the awards ecosystem is too great and its members behave inappropriately and unprofessionally at press conferences, often downplaying talent of color.

Acknowledging that the HFPA has made a number of advances in its reform efforts, one broadcaster said: “We were all complicit with the organization and kept our noses.”

In the last 20 months, the HFPA has created new codes of conduct and bylaws, banning gifts, establishing a hotline to report abuse, and restricting travel. The group has also hired its first diversity chief and accepted 21 new members, six of whom are Black.

Abandoning private press conferences has become a prominent issue for the more than 100-strong advertising group that has demanded major reforms and boycotted the HFPA. Applications in 2021.

Over the years, critics, both internal and external, have claimed that the HFPA, which receives nearly $30 million in annual payments from NBC to broadcast the Golden Globes, has become corrupt due to the massive cash flow to the organization.

The Times investigation revealed that the nonprofit HFPA regularly makes substantial payments to its members in ways that some experts say may run counter to Internal Revenue Service guidelines. HFPA members received approximately $2 million in payments from the group in the fiscal year ended June 2020 to serve on various committees and perform other duties.

The HFPA said members were appropriately compensated for their services and payments were in line with market rates and industry practices.

Boehly said paying members will create a “system of checks and balances.”

“So how do you make people accountable? Boehly said. “Well, you’re transforming the organization from a nonprofit with no accountability and bad governance to one with employee-based responsibility.”

Still, some are skeptical of the $75,000 salary and benefits package, saying it amplifies the role of money within the organization, effectively making its member employees effective paid voters.

Kelly McBride, senior vice president of the Poynter Institute and chair of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, said the arrangement is unusual.

While sports reporters voted for the Heisman winner, other journalists for the Pulitzer Prize winners and other journalism awards, “I haven’t heard of any other constituency. [who] pay off,” he said.

“It actually makes you wonder if the HFPA has an agenda,” McBride added. “$75,000 is a reasonable amount of impact. Whenever journalists are not paid by journalists, the real question is what they were paid for and whether influence was bought.”

Boehly downplayed the planned payments.

“I wouldn’t call them paid voters,” he said, adding that voting is only part of their role in the organisation. “I also don’t know why a paid journalist can’t vote on something. Where is the rule that says that?”

As paid employees, Golden Globes Assn. Members can be dismissed without giving any reason.

“It’s about being professional,” Boehly said, adding that the ability to fire employees is part of “good governance and mechanisms that will enable the organization to evolve over time to a highly professional standard.”

Included in the contract is a “go away” clause, where members who sign the contract have 30 days to dissolve their association and are paid $225,000. Boehly said the payment was just “severance pay.”

Even as the HFPA began its reforms, various reformers and opponents argued that it was becoming less transparent. Over the past year, the association has quietly expelled a handful of members they accused of violating its standards.

Some believe the new structure and financial payouts are ways to keep members in line and weed out those seen as problematic.

Turning the HFPA into a for-profit venture “takes away the last bit of legitimacy,” said one former member, who declined to be named for fear of retaliation. “They have now become a commercial enterprise… opaque, even less reliable.”

New Golden Globe Assn. Once this takes shape, another question is how paid members will navigate potential conflicts with their new employers.

In addition to the Golden Globes, Eldridge Industries also owns Dick Clark Productions, which hosted the awards ceremony. For years, the two separate organizations shared the $60 million license fee that NBC paid to broadcast the program. Eldridge also owns shares in a number of commercial publications, including The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

It is also part of the Eldridge portfolio of production companies, including A24. Content produced by these companies will likely be considered for Golden Globes. A24 received 10 nominations in the film categories this year alone, placing second after Searchlight.

“One question is what is the ultimate value of Orbs?” asks McBride. “Whenever you have these awards systems, Emmys, sports or Academy awards, you want some form of accounting so you know the system is fair and … the voters are legitimate.”

Boehly said there are processes in place to ensure responsible voting, including ensuring that Ernst & Young’s accounting firm sorts the votes. He added that he plans to hand over leadership to a new CEO and management team following the transition to a for-profit company.

“I’m not interested in having any impact because I honestly think it would hurt the integrity of the brand. And of course my number one goal is to grow the brand.”

Still, Boehly acknowledges that despite the organization’s best efforts, skeptics persist.

“I have nightmares where it doesn’t work, you know? I get it, you can’t always convince everybody of anything,” he said. “We know we have to add value and we have to be part of the solution.”

“We understand our place in the ecosystem and we want to make sure that we manage to be a long-lasting professional organization,” he added.

Staff writer Josh Rottenberg contributed to this report.

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