Editor’s Note: Whether on screen or off, Hollywood can always be counted on to keep us entertained. This is especially true when it comes to politics. Join us each week as we shine the spotlight on Tinseltown’s A-listers and their whacky and sometimes inspiring takes on today’s current events.
First, Cinderella was canceled because it was too “white,” and now NBC says it will not air the Golden Globes event because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which hands out the awards, doesn’t have enough diversity – in other words, not enough black members. “Change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,” NBC said. “As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes.” As long as the small organization can meet NBC’s standards, then the 2023 awards ceremony will likely be aired, said the television network.
Members of the Hollywood elite did their part to protest the organization. Actor Tom Cruise returned his three Golden Globes awards for Born on the Fourth of July, Jerry Maguire, and Magnolia, showcasing his objections to HFPA’s policies and ethics. Scarlett Johansson, well-known for her role as the Black Widow in Marvel Comics’ Avengers, said that “as an actor promoting a film” she has had to work with HFPA, and it “has often meant facing sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on sexual harassment.” She claimed that “HFPA is an organization that was legitimized by the likes of Harvey Weinstein to amass momentum for Academy recognition” and “[u]nless there is necessary fundamental reform within the organization, I believe it is time that we take a step back from the HFPA.”
Johansson’s remarks followed Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos’ May 7 letter to HFPA saying unless the organization promises to reform, Netflix will not be participating in the awards. Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke released a statement that Amazon had “not been working with HFPA since these issues were first raised, and like the rest of the industry, we are awaiting a sincere and significant resolution before moving forward.”
Just Who is HFPA, Anyway?
According to the Los Angeles Times, which started the current uproar with an exposé on HFPA earlier this year:
“The 87 current members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. hail from a wide variety of backgrounds, including seasoned film reporters for major publications like Silvia Bizio, a contributor to Italy’s La Repubblica, and Rocio Ayuso, a correspondent for Spain’s El País, as well as others who contribute sporadically to more obscure overseas outlets.”
Although the organization’s website does not list the members, some include Lisa Lu, who played the grandmother in Crazy Rich Asians, and Margaret Gardiner, who was the first South African to win the Miss Universe title in 1978. Then there are Yola Czaderska-Hayek, who refers to herself on Facebook as “the First Polish Lady of Hollywood” and who loves to wear fur coats and jewels, drawing comparisons to Joan Collins, and Alexander Nevsky, a Russian bodybuilder and actor who said on Twitter in 2018, “I think I’m the only producer who can lift 100 pound dumbbells and the only bodybuilder who votes for @goldenglobes and produces films.”
Norwegian journalist Kjersti Flaa filed an antitrust lawsuit against HFPA last year. In it, she claimed a lot of the members are elderly, one in particular is reportedly deaf and legally blind. According to the Times: “Those who have interacted with the organization describe members falling asleep during screenings, hurling insults at one another during news conferences and frequently engaging in personal feuds.” There have also been reports of members selling (scalping?) their Globes tickets as well as after-party tickets. However, a representative for the award group said, “The HFPA embraces and is proud of its older members, who have added so much to the organization and to entertainment journalism over the years.”
This year’s nominations appeared to snub black-led projects popular among other award shows, which not only fueled the fire but also caused an explosion throughout movieland. Now it looks as though the Golden Globes award show will be unavailable to fans as more networks say they will neither air nor participate in the event. An HFPA representative said:
“We do not control the individual votes of our members. We seek to build cultural understanding through film and TV and recognize how the power of creative storytelling can educate people around the world to issues of race, representation, and orientation.”
The loose coalition of networks and industry professionals publicly condemned one of HFPA’s former presidents, who served eight terms, when he compared Black Lives Matter to the Charles Manson murders in the 1960s. Philip Berk reportedly sent an email to HFPA’s staff and members that called BLM a “racist hate movement” and said that its co-founder Patrisse Cullors was a “self-proclaimed ‘trained Marxist.’” The email mocked Cullors for having a $1.4 million home in “mostly white” Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles and warned BLM wanted to start a “race war” and “Black Lives Matter is carrying on Manson’s work.”
Woke HollyWeird has spoken, and HFPA needs to undergo a massive rehabilitation before it will be welcomed on the red carpet anytime soon. Although 75 of its 86 members recently voted for an “inclusion and overhaul proposal,” it sounds like they either won’t be able to keep the group as small as they’d like, or they might need to get rid of a lot of its current members.
Tune in next week to see what else Tinseltown has planned.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.