Here’s something you probably didn’t know: The Golden Globes are on this week.
Wait, are the Golden Globes back?
I certainly am. The Golden Globes will air on NBC and stream on Peacock, beginning at 8:00 pm ET on Tuesday, January 10, live from the Beverly Hilton. There’s a pre-show at 6:30 PM ET if you want to hear stars and emcees have awkward conversations on the red carpet.
It’s been a strange year for the Golden Globes. In 2021 the show was bicoastal; aired simultaneously in New York and Los Angeles, was hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and looked like it was a solid case for its own irrelevance. In 2022 there were awards, but they were not televised.
How come? Was there a controversy or something?
More than one!
It’s a long and complicated story, but long story short, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) — the organization of about 90 US-based journalists who cover business for non-US outlets — has found itself under a cloud of scandals following a 2021 Los Angeles Times investigation. Here are some of the issues raised by the Times:
The HFPA’s (very open) dirty little secret was that members were lavishly won, dined, and showered with lavish gifts from studios hoping their shows and movies would garner nominations. In the story, some details came to life vividly. For example, the Paramount Network, which produces Emilia in Paris for Netflix, he took 30 HFPA members to Paris for two nights in a $1,400-a-night hotel. And indeed, the show has earned two Golden Globe nominations. It was revealed that the organization has created a system of kickbacks and internal payments for members. Members serving on various committees, with duties involving viewing foreign films or working with archives, have been paid, in some cases several thousand dollars a month. According to the story, there was a lot of unprofessional behavior in the group: “Those who interacted with the organization describe members falling asleep during screeners, hurling insults at each other during press conferences, and often engaging in personal feuds”. The group had no black members at all.
All of this threatens the integrity of the awards, even though in truth the Globes have long been seen as something of an industry winking prize, at least for a group ostensibly made up of journalists. Their bizarre nominations and unpredictable awards show, fueled by an open bar, introduce an element of crazy fun into the otherwise fairly predictable awards season. And if it’s all some kind of behind-the-scenes affair, huh, who cares?
Well, some people care because they care about awards, which can be a real career boost for winners. Lack of diversity in a voting body leads to lopsided winners, for example. Bribes and salaries skew member votes.
But there’s also much darker bad behavior that members of the HFPA have been accused of — most notably, former eight-term president Philip Berk.
In 2014, Berk released a memoir titled With Marks and Wonders: My Journey from Darkest Africa to the Bright Lights of Hollywood. (Berk is from South Africa.) At the moment, HFPA members felt he unfairly blindsided them with the book and took too much credit for the Globes’ success. After much pressure, he was forced to take a six-month leave from the group.
Then, in 2018, actor Brendan Fraser accused Berk of sexually assaulting him in 2003. Berk has denied the story and reportedly offered a private, half-hearted apology. Meanwhile, the HFPA launched an internal investigation and decided the incident was meant as a prank; the organization declined to share the investigator’s report with Fraser, but asked him to sign a joint statement. Fraser declined.
Berk remained a good voter with the organization through April 20, 2021. The organization, under a cloud of controversy after the LA Times investigation found a serious lack of racial diversity in the group, expelled Berk. following an email sent to members in which he called Black Lives Matter a “racist hate movement”. NBC, the network that pays the group millions of dollars for the rights to air the show, released a statement saying Berk should be kicked out. “Swift action on this front is essential for NBC to move forward with the HFPA and the Golden Globes,” the statement read. Berk was expelled that day.
So the controversies associated with the Golden Globes and the HFPA have been many and varied, and if you don’t follow entertainment industry news closely, they’ve also been quite confusing.
Has the group made any changes?
Yes. About a week after the 2021 ceremony on March 6, the HFPA released a mea culpa in which they made a number of promises. They would expand membership and increase its diversity, make their voting methods more transparent, and look into potential ethics violations, all within the next 60 days. Meanwhile, more than 100 advertising agencies circulated a letter denying HFPA access to clients if they have failed to make their reforms.
On May 3, 2021, nearly 60 days after the pledge, the HFPA announced his intentions to increase its membership, especially recruiting from underrepresented groups. It seems this wasn’t showing enough movement for many. On May 7, Netflix announced it would boycott the Golden Globes; several A-list celebrities soon followed, as well as Amazon Studios, and Tom Cruise returned his three Golden Globes. By May 10, NBC had announced it would not be airing the ceremony in 2022, saying “a change of this magnitude takes time and work” and that the HFPA “needs time to get it right”. NBC suggested that if the reforms were implemented enough, the Globes would return to TV in 2023.
It is now 2023 and they are back. Hollywood may still be skittish about the HFPA and the Golden Globes, but according to news reports, are ready to celebrate. With the help of consultants, the HFPA threaded a tricky needle: While it modestly increased membership by adding 21 US-based members, it also invited 103 more nonmember voters to screen for awards.
The HFPA he said that new voters are much more racially diverse than in the past: 22.3% of them are Latino, 13.6% are Black, 11.7% are Asian, 10.7% are Middle Eastern and 41.7% are White, with 58.3% identifying as “ethnic diverse”. The electorate now stands at 200, with 52% of voters female and 51.5% who are “racially and ethnically diverse”. Its geographic range has also been expanded; most still come from Europe (43.5%), but the number of voters from other regions has increased: Latin America (18.5%), Asia (17%), Middle East (9%) and Africa (7%).
The established organization a no-gifts policy in July 2021 and launched a hotline allow people to report incidents, complaints and allegations. Some members still receive a salary from the organization, which is HFPA President Helen Hoehne described to Deadline as a “salary”, for performing certain duties, such as serving on committees.
Insiders seem to have a diverse set of opinions on the validity of the Globes. After all, a cloud of suspicion that big can’t disappear overnight. Will winning a Globe mean the same as it did in the past, now that the average person may have a negative opinion? Does it matter? In the smoky world of Hollywood awards, it might not be. Time will tell.
What’s the big deal about the Golden Globes anyway?
Here’s the thing: there’s nothing intrinsically interesting about the Golden Globes, as opposed to the myriad other awards given in the run-up to the Oscars. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is no more prominent than any other critical body. Because the average casual moviegoer has heard of the Golden Globes but not, shall we say, of the Independent Spirit Awards or the Critics Choice Awards? Or the prizes awarded by the various regional critics? Why are we more interested in the Golden Globes than the Screen Actors Guild or the Directors Guild?
As befits our times, the answer is simple: The Golden Globes are famous for being famous, and we watch them because they’re on TV. If you’ve heard of them and they’re advertised as important, then they assume importance.
They’re also perfectly positioned to at least give the illusion of “predicting” the Oscars results, even if the reality is a bit different. There’s an idea that voters for the Academy — the 10,000-strong industry group that hands out the Oscars — are watching the Golden Globes as they decide who to vote for in the nominations. Oscar nominations will open on Jan. 12, two days after this year’s ceremony. So you can understand why the pressure is high.
Ultimately, though, if you want to predict Oscar results, the Golden Globes are an imperfect measure. For the most part, it’s the show that keeps people coming back. (Both Renee Zellweger And Christine Lahti they were in the bathroom when they won the prizes and had to run back, which was a lot of fun.)
What can we expect for this year’s show?
Probably some weird vibes, jokes about the last few years and, if Brendan Fraser wins his category, some really awkward moments.
Comedian Jerrod Carmichael hosts the show, and the usual bunch of stars show up to hand out individual awards. Star attendees reportedly, candidates and otherwise, they are revealing in full force. And they will all be there in person; unlike previous years, there will be no virtual attendees.
Ryan Murphy will receive the Carol Burnett Award for Outstanding Contributions to Television, and Eddie Murphy will receive the Cecil B. DeMille award, which honors the same thing but for cinema. There will still be an open bar (as far as we know), but I suspect everyone will be on their best behavior, since this seems like a bit of a test year to see if the Globes last. (In other words, we’re unlikely to see anything like this slap him.)
Ok, but why is it on a Tuesday?
Why not? There are probably a few reasons — advertisers could be one of them — but the likely main one is that NBC has the rights to Sunday Night Football this season. This is the show!
Lady Gaga with her Golden Globe at the 2019 ceremony, before everything went haywire for the organization.Kevin Winter/Getty Images