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HomeAwardsThe Accidental Turitz: Goodbye, HFPA! Hello… What, Exactly?

The Accidental Turitz: Goodbye, HFPA! Hello… What, Exactly?

Just so we’re clear, I have never, ever, been a fan of the Golden Globes. In fact, I have stated repeatedly, both verbally and in print, that I think the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is a complete joke, that the Golden Globes are a meaningless trinket that has no bearing on the Oscars, and that I would continue to feel this way and comment on it unless or until I actually won one, at which point I would belt my hypocrisy out to the back row.

That’s me 98 percent joking, but that last two percent is deadly serious. To be invited to that party, get up on that sparkling stage to accept an award, and then tell the HFPA what I really think of them while still holding that golden tchotchke in my hand? Priceless.

Alas, that dream has been stolen from me now, gone like a thief in the night.

Which, come to think of it, is how members of the HFPA were often described, but that’s neither here nor there.

Dick Clark Productions

Anyway, it is not news that Eldridge Industries bought the HFPA last year, nor is it news that Eldridge Industries also owns Dick Clark Productions and the Beverly Hilton Hotel, or that Eldridge is owned by Todd Boehly, a billionaire who has money in A24, MRC, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Penske Media Corporation. Led by Boehly’s pal Jay Penske, the latter company has bought nearly every entertainment outlet with an industry readership, and in fact owns Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline Hollywood, IndieWire, and plenty of other industry trades, though not, it should be noted, this one.

What is news — and you might have seen it already, but if not then buckle up — is that Dick Clark Productions has decided to shut down the HFPA for good while continuing to put on the Globes every January to celebrate both film and television or whatever the higher-ups at DCP and PMC decide is worthy of such lavish celebration. With the decision to pull the plug on the HFPA once and for all, the Globes instantly go from being a non-profit enterprise to a for-profit one, and with it goes any trace of respectability — disappearing like that aforementioned thief in the night, though in this case, it was Monday morning.

The 95-or-so current HFPA voters will be offered buyouts said to be valued at $300,000 each, and though I never claimed math as a strong suit, I estimate it will cost less than $30 million to make everyone go away and start from scratch. In case I haven’t been clear about the list of pies in which Boehly and Penske have their fingers, this is essentially pocket change to them. A pittance. A few paltry pieces of silver from a war chest overflowing with gold. You have to admire the duo’s long-term strategy in assembling their media empire, which now has Hollywood over a barrel — the studio sheep having let the real wolves in through the back door. How else to explain covering the Globes one day, and owning the show the next?

I don’t know a lot of people in the industry who took the Golden Globes seriously at any point, though they did enjoy the party, the perks, and, in the case of the two people I know who have won Globes themselves, the hardware. The trophy looks good on a mantle, and when you go to someone’s IMDB page, a Golden Globe nomination or win will show up on the person’s main page before any other award except an Oscar. The Emmys don’t even have that kind of juice.

HFPA

But even still, despite the fact that Globes voters were a secretive bunch with very real issues surrounding racism and misogyny, they were, technically, journalists. They at least paid lip service to some kind of integrity and objectivity, even if most of us knew this was pretty much nonsense. These same people were getting annual perks valued in the low six figures, including free airfare and hotels, and plenty of wining and dining, because studios and networks knew that, to the common folk, the prestige of winning a Golden Globe — or, hell, even being nominated for one — was worth a lot of money at the box office or higher ratings on TV. Thus, they all spent millions wooing HFPA members in hopes of landing their wares on the annual NBC telecast.

This is, after all, the organization that, over just the last 15 years, has handed out Best Picture nominations to such brilliant movies as Mamma Mia!, Alice in Wonderland, Burlesque, The Tourist, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, St. Vincent, and Joy, and put The Martian, a movie I genuinely love, in the Musical or Comedy category, even though it is clearly neither. The Golden Globes have long had an issue with voting integrity, but at least there was a little bit of integrity.

Not anymore, though.

Because with the HFPA shut down for good, there’s not even the pretense of any kind of objectivity as a genuine celebration of film and TV. The Globes telecast is now an awards show for hire, and anyone who doesn’t look at this week’s news without some kind of jaundiced eye is easily fooled.

And aside from this somewhat shocking news, the real concern is that the Penske trades will be used to prop up and legitimize this whole endeavor. Four of the five biggest outlets are owned by PMC, and while I would never impugn the journalistic integrity of the fine folks who work at these publications, there is no telling what kind of pressure will be put upon the editorial departments to toe the company line and ensure a certain level of (fawning) coverage for whatever the Globes might become.

Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais hosts the 2020 Golden Globes/NBC/HFPA

That’s not all. The conflict of interest of a company owning the awards show and the media pushing it and at least a couple of potential nominees is sort of mind-boggling, as is the sheer audacity of believing that this is all hunky dory and that whatever fallout might occur is worth it. The sad thing is, I don’t know what kind of fallout there might actually be because there is no evidence that those in power actually care enough to cry foul on this entire operation, as this is a win for Hollywood — the show goes on, and the industry is no longer beholden to that greedy group of junketeers.

The HFPA was always sketchy. There’s no debating that. Folks even joked about it at the Globes over the years, including three-time host Ricky Gervais, who clearly had no use for the people who hired him to run the proceedings. I would say “good riddance” to most of them, but that clearly falls under the category of the devil you know, so to speak.

What’s really fascinating about all this, and more than a little fitting, is how even after making all of these so-called changes and claiming self-improvement in the name of greater prestige, the HFPA was wiped off the chessboard, where it will be replaced by something that’s still to be determined but is undoubtedly going to be much, much worse.

And now we wait for the inevitable TV deal to come. Since those dollars are what this is all about anyway. Always follow the money, but don’t forget that someone had to spend it to make more of it.


Neil Turitz is a journalist, essayist, author, and filmmaker who has worked in and written about Hollywood for more than 25 years, though he has never lived there. These days, he splits his time between New York City and the Berkshires. He’s not on Twitter, but you can find him on Instagram @6wordreviews.

You can read a new installation of The Accidental Turitz every Wednesday, and all previous columns can be found here.

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