If a Disgraced Awards Ceremony Dropped in Hollywood, Will Anybody Hear It?

by Robert Nesti

EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor

Sunday January 9, 2022
Originally published on January 9, 2022

Golden Globes
Golden Globes  (Source:Associated Press)

Perhaps the strangest thing about the Golden Globes is that ever received their stature in the film industry. It likely began when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association annual awards began to be broadcast nationally (consecutively since 1978). The early timing of the awards — usually prior to the Oscar nominations — along with the fun nature of the ceremony itself turned the awards into the second most prominent during the Oscar season.

Why it was strange is, why this small, inclusive group of largely unknown foreign journalists were able to draw superstars from both movies and television to a Beverly Hills hotel ballroom every year? Perhaps it was a case of if you build it, they will come. In other words, dangle a golden award before Hollywood creatives and expect a gala red carpet event, especially if a win will bolster Oscar chances.

The Globes will be awarded tonight, but don't expect to watch it on NBC (which holds the broadcasting rights) or in a streaming format. "Organizers say the ceremony — set to take place this Sunday, January 9 — will be a 'small event,' " reports The Cut. "And it looks as if it'll be strange: Owing to COVID safety protocols, there won't be an audience. There also won't be a red carpet or any celebrity presenters; a source told Variety that none were willing to take part."

"This year's event is going to be a private event and will not be livestreamed," an HFPA spokesperson told Deadline on Thursday. "We will be providing real-time updates on winners on the Golden Globes website and our social media."

Deadline adds that the winners will be announced via press release after the approximately 90-minute ceremony is over.

"The HFPA is typically paid $60 million a year by NBC for rights to air the Globes. Most recently, NBCUniversal, the HFPA and Dick Clark Productions hammered out an eight-year deal in 2018," adds Deadline.

"As previously reported, the 79th annual awards ceremony will be glamor-free sans red carpet, media and celebrities attending, meaning no presenters or nominees. For the most part, studios in their 'For You Consideration' ads have not been touting this year's Golden Globe nominations among the accolades for their films and TV series."

In other words, no red carpet. No nominees and celebrity presenters. No cringe-worthy acceptance speeches fueled by alcohol.

The reason for the HFPA's fall from grace stems from ethical issues regarding its non-diverse memberships, as well as financial and journalistic credentials, reports The New York Times.

"The association, a relatively small group of roughly 85 journalists who vote on the Golden Globes, has long been scrutinized over questions about its ethics, finances and journalistic credentials. But this year, following a Los Angeles Times investigation, a lawsuit and a growing outcry from the movie and television industries, NBC canceled the 2022 awards telecast, making swift changes necessary for the organization's survival."

The changes come after years of criticism, the Times continues, that the "the association's membership application process was opaque, biased and generally meant to keep most people out. But the association said it would now allow any journalist who would like to join to apply, and that new members will be selected by a credentials committee that will be comprised mainly of nonmembers."

"Three months ago, we made a promise to commit to transformational change and with this vote we kept the last and most significant promise in reimagining the H.F.P.A. and our role in the industry," Ali Sar, the group's current board president, said in a statement. "All of these promised reforms can serve as industry benchmarks and allow us to once again partner meaningfully with Hollywood moving forward."

At Sunday's ceremony, the HFPA's philanthropy and its diversity changes will be emphasized. "Expect Kyle Bowser, SVP of the Hollywood Bureau of the NAACP, to be speaking about the Reimagine Coalition during the ceremony. Last October, the venerable civil rights organization inked a five-year agreement with the inclusion-challenged HFPA to work on a series of initiatives to open diversity doors and scale up representation."

Whether or not NBC will be broadcasting next year's ceremony remains to be seen. "The network, in a statement at the time, said it continues to believe that the HFPA is 'committed to meaningful reform' but 'change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,' " adds Deadline.

And the Hollywood elite has turned their backs on the awards. Tom Cruise returned his three Golden Globes to the organization in protest last May. The group's reputation is so tarnished that Variety reports no celebrities were willing to participate in the proposed ceremony. The publication "has obtained a copy of an email from the Globes talent booker that was sent to several publicity agencies inquiring about their clients participating in the show. However, sources say, no celebs have agreed to take part."

Robert Nesti can be reached at [email protected].