‘It took a disaster to be able to make modifications,’ Golden Globes proprietor

The return of the Golden Globes to NBC on Jan. 10 will mark not solely the eightieth anniversary of the awards ceremony, however the lengthy journey of the Hollywood Overseas Press Assn. to rehabilitate its picture and get again into Hollywood’s good graces.

It additionally underscores how dramatically the group has modified underneath its new proprietor, billionaire Todd Boehly, chairman of personal fairness agency Eldridge Industries, the father or mother firm of longtime Golden Globes producer Dick Clark Productions.

Earlier this 12 months, Boehly, a Dodgers co-owner, additionally made headlines with the record-breaking buy of Premier League soccer membership Chelsea FC for $4.93 billion.

Not a nonprofit group of overseas leisure journalists, the 96 members (together with these with emeritus standing) of the newly reconstituted for-profit at the moment are paid staff of the Golden Globes Affiliation underneath the Eldridge umbrella.

They may earn $75,000 a 12 months to display screen movies and tv sequence submitted for Golden Globes consideration, vote on nominations and winners, write content material for the group’s web site and manage supplies for the awards present and group’s historical past, in keeping with a replica of the employment contract reviewed by The Instances.

Beneath the brand new plan, the affiliation’s tax-exempt standing shall be dissolved, and the brand new affiliation will permit members “the opportunity to share in its profits.” The brand new non-public entity will handle its Golden Globes belongings, whereas sustaining the charitable and philanthropic applications in a separate nonprofit entity. The plan should nonetheless be accepted by the California lawyer normal.

In an interview with The Instances, Boehly stated the modifications had been obligatory steps.

“We had the combination of the business model that was changing, challenged governance and a sense of power, which ultimately resulted in the catastrophe that we all witnessed,” Boehly stated. “And it took a crisis in order to make changes.”

In September, the HFPA added 103 worldwide non-member voters, vastly increasing the group’s range and geographical attain. This group of voters won’t be paid, creating, in impact, a two-tier system.

Boehly, who grew to become the group’s interim CEO final 12 months, stated he expects the variety of worldwide voters will develop to make it it much less “reliant on the existing members,” whereas increasing the voting pool general and the group’s world presence. The objective, he stated, is to ascertain what he known as, “events around the world under the Golden Globes brand.”

Proponents of the brand new setup say it’s a method to change the outdated damaged system, wherein some members garnered paid journalism assignments predicated upon the unique entry the HFPA was given to expertise via screenings, press conferences and different occasions.

By offering salaries, assured for 5 years, in addition to advantages together with medical and dental, and accrued trip and bonuses, the reasoning goes, Boehly can exert a larger degree of management over members by eliminating their calls for for unique entry that grew to become some extent of rivalry for a lot of within the trade.

“Now by making [members] not reliant on press conferences, I take away the kind of conflicts of interest that were embedded in the organization that might have created the opportunity to be swayed by things other than just being authentic and having real integrity,” Boehly stated.

Additional, he stated the for-profit construction will permit the group to adapt and function with the form of accountability, governance and suppleness that was absent from the HFPA.

Business critics, together with numerous Hollywood publicists, have lengthy complained that the HFPA outsized affect within the awards ecosystem and that its members behaved inappropriately and unprofessionally at press conferences, regularly snubbing expertise of colour.

“We were all complicit working with the organization and holding our noses,” stated one publicist who acknowledged the HFPA had made numerous strides in its reform efforts.

Over the previous 20 months, the HFPA established a brand new code of conduct and bylaws, banned items, instituted a hotline for reporting misconduct and put curbs on journey. The group additionally employed its first chief range officer and admitted 21 new members, six of whom are Black.

Abandoning unique press conferences grew to become a front-burner difficulty for a contingent of greater than 100 energy publicists who demanded important reforms and boycotted the HFPA following The Instances’ investigation that uncovered a scarcity of range within the group’s membership and raised considerations about its ethics and monetary practices in 2021.

Over time, inside and exterior critics claimed that the HFPA, flush with practically $30 million annual funds from NBC to broadcast the Golden Globes, had grow to be corrupted by the large flows of money to the group.

The Instances investigation discovered that the nonprofit HFPA recurrently issued substantial funds to its personal members in ways in which some specialists stated may run afoul of Inside Income Service tips. HFPA members collected practically $2 million in funds from the group in its fiscal 12 months ending in June 2020 for serving on varied committees and performing different duties.

The HFPA stated the members had been correctly compensated for his or her providers and that the funds had been in step with market charges and trade observe.

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

“So how do you make people accountable? Boehly said. “Well, you transition the organization from a not-for-profit with no accountability and bad governance to an organization where there is employee-based accountability.”

Nonetheless, some look askance on the $75,000 salaries and profit bundle, saying it elevates the function of cash contained in the group, successfully making its member staff paid voters.

Kelly McBride, senior vice chairman of the Poynter Institute and chair of its Craig Newmark Heart for Ethics & Management, stated the association is uncommon.

Whereas sports activities journalists vote for the Heisman winner and different journalists vote for Pulitzer winners and different journalism awards, “I have not heard of another group of voters [who] get paid,” she stated.

“Mainly, it makes you wonder if the HFPA has an agenda,” McBride added. “$75,000 is a fair amount of influence. Anytime journalists get paid not by journalists, the question is what are they getting paid for and if influence is not being bought.”

Boehly downplayed the deliberate funds.

“I wouldn’t call them paid voters,” he stated, including that voting is barely a part of their function within the group. “I don’t know why a paid journalist can’t also vote on something. Where’s the rule that says that?”

As paid staff, Golden Globes Assn. members will be fired with out trigger.

“This is about becoming professional,” stated Boehly, saying the power to terminate staff is a part of “good governance and mechanisms to ensure that the organization is evolving with the times at a very professional standard.”

Included within the contract is a “walk-away” clause, wherein members who signal the contract have 30 days to terminate their affiliation and shall be paid $225,000. Boehly stated the fee was merely “severance.”

Even because the HFPA launched into its reforms, varied reformers and dissidents have claimed it has grow to be much less clear. Over the previous 12 months, the affiliation has quietly ejected a handful of members whom they’ve accused of violating its requirements.

And a few imagine the brand new construction and monetary funds are methods to maintain members in line — and weed out these considered as problematic.

Turning the HFPA right into a for-profit enterprise “takes away the last shred of legitimacy,” stated one former member who declined to be named for worry of retaliation. “They are now a commercial venture…opaque, even less trustworthy.”

As the brand new Golden Globes Assn. takes form, one other query is how paid members will navigate potential conflicts involving their new employer.

Along with proudly owning the Golden Globes, Eldridge Industries owns Dick Clark Productions, which produces the awards ceremony. For years, the 2 separate entities cut up the $60 million licensing charge NBC paid to broadcast the present. Eldridge additionally owns stakes in numerous commerce publications together with the Hollywood Reporter and Selection.

On the identical time, manufacturing firms together with A24 are a part of the Eldridge portfolio. The content material produced by these companies will seemingly be up for consideration for Golden Globes. This 12 months alone, A24 garnered 10 nominations within the movie classes, second solely to Searchlight.

“A question is what is the ultimate value of the Globes?” asks McBride. “Anytime you have these systems of awards, the Emmys or sports or the Academy awards, you want some sort of accounting so that you know system is fair and that the … people who vote are legitimate.”

Boehly stated there are processes in place to make sure accountable voting, together with having the accounting agency of Ernst & Younger tabulate the votes. “I don’t get involved in that one bit,” he stated, including that following the transition to a for-profit he plans to cede management to a brand new CEO and administration crew.

“I am not interested in having any influence because I think, frankly, that would damage the integrity of the brand. And of course, my number one goal is to grow the brand.”

Nonetheless, Boehly acknowledges that regardless of all the group’s efforts, skeptics stay.

“I have nightmares where it doesn’t work too, you know? I get it, you can’t convince all of the people all of the time of anything,” he stated, “We know we have to add value and we know that we have to be part of the solution.”

He added, “We understand our place in the ecosystem and we want to make sure we achieve that — to be a professional organization with longevity.”

Workers author Josh Rottenberg contributed to this report.