A member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has told Sky News he wants HFPA and Golden Globe Awards bosses to be held accountable for the lack of diversity in the organisation and ongoing controversy surrounding the high-profile awards.
Responding to NBC’s decision not to televise the Golden Globes next year (for the first time in 26 years) unless the organisation behind it – the HFPA – makes significant changes to its membership after it emerged that it hasn’t had a single black member in 20 years, Husam Asi broke ranks as press interviews with HFPA members and Golden Globes executives are rare.
Doubling down on the pressure is Hollywood star Tom Cruise, who has given back the three Globes he has won over the years in protest over the lack of diversity.
Mr Asi confirmed to Sky News that he has “demanded an investigation” into the HFPA and all associated with the Golden Globes, but he says nailing down those in power is challenging as those at the top can be elusive.
“When we find those responsible, they should be held accountable,” he said.
“But at the moment, I don’t know exactly who’s responsible. Everybody blames each other.
“There is a need for reforms… for transparency… better management. At the moment it’s a bit chaotic and it’s all run by lawyers and consultants and all kinds of experts. So it needs a proper direction.
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“The leadership admitted there was a failure, if there was a failure, then who is responsible for that failure? Because you can’t pay millions of dollars to experts and then find that the system is broken.”
“Clearly, they didn’t do their job, the management of the association is done by a small group of members,” said the HFPA member and BBC Cinematic presenter.
Criticism of elusive group behind awards ‘mostly stems from jealousy’, member says
WarnerMedia, Netflix and Amazon Studios are also refusing to participate in HFPA-related events, and other A-listers including Scarlett Johansson have called for “fundamental reform” of the event, which can give a nominee or winner’s career a significant boost.
Ahead of this year’s ceremony on 1 March, Sky News reported allegations that votes within the HFPA can easily be influenced, and new members are prohibited, when the news emerged that there are no black people among the organisation’s 87 members who vote on the awards.
This year’s Golden Globes audience plummeted to less than six million US viewers – down from 18.4 million last year – in a difficult year for film, with COVID restrictions impacting on ceremonies and cinemas being closed.
Of course all of this is nothing new for those of us who pay attention to the awards season and all the controversy and commotion it throws up.
In recent weeks, BAFTA has been embroiled in the controversy around the allegations of bullying and sexual harassment made against Noel Clarke – which he strongly denies – after it awarded him with its outstanding British contribution to cinema award after the claims surfaced.
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For many years, the Academy Awards were plagued by the #OscarsSoWhite campaign. As far back as 1973, Marlon Brando rejected his Oscar for best actor in protest against Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans in film.
This fresh controversy threatens to further undermine the position of the Golden Globes and Mr Asi told Sky News the awards give nominees a step up.
He said: “The ones who are going to lose most are the new talent and in many cases talent of colour, because often they get the push from the Golden Globes and only after the recognition by the Golden Globes, they get recognition at the Emmys or at the Oscars.
“I don’t think it will affect the big stars because they are already established.
“So it’s sad for new talent, young talent.”
Mr Asi said he hopes the controversy around the Golden Globes will prompt a deeper debate on diversity among the whole industry – “because I don’t recall ever meeting a black journalist, international black journalist, at entertainment junkets”.
“That means we have a problem in the press as well… also they don’t have black publicists… if the reforms don’t go beyond the HFPA, I don’t think we will achieve much,” he added.
“The Golden Globes offer a different perspective, the international perspective that is different than the American voters’ choices. And yeah, they provoke debate and controversy because they are different, sometimes eccentric.
“But that’s the fun of it.”