How Has the Golden Globes’ HFPA Addressed Its Diversity Problems?

NBC opted not to televise the 79th Golden Globe Awards last year amid the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s diversity and ethics scandals. But now that the HFPA has implemented some reforms, NBC is bringing the star-studded awards ceremony back to the airwaves on January 10, with Jerrod Carmichael emceeing the evening’s festivities.

“We recognize the HFPA’s commitment to ongoing change and look forward to welcoming back the Golden Globes to NBC for its landmark 80th anniversary,” Frances Berwick, Chairman of Entertainment Networks at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, said in a statement in September.

The upheaval for the HFPA — which doles out the Globes every year — began in February 2021, when the Los Angeles Times revealed that the then-87-strong organization of journalists from around the world had no Black members. In another damning article, the same newspaper raised questions about the HFPA’s financial practices, with its investigation uncovering $2 million in payments to its members, payments that experts said might flaunt IRS guidelines. Two days later, a New York Times article shed light on the HFPA’s history of dubious nominations and awards and the accusations that studios have bribed HFPA members with expensive gifts.

That May, amid uproar and even boycotts about the HFPA’s representation and practices, NBC announced that it would not air the 2022 Golden Globes. “We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform,” the network said in a statement, per Deadline. “However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right.”

Since then, the HFPA has invited 21 new members and added 103 voters, according to The Hollywood Reporter. According to statistics the HFPA released in September, 22.3 percent of the new voters are Latinx, 13.6 percent are Black, 11.7 percent are Asian, 10.7 are Middle Eastern, per Variety. In all, 41.7 percent of the new voters are white, while 58.3 percent self-identify as “ethnically diverse.” Additionally, 43.5 percent of the current voting body hails from Europe, 18.5 percent are from Latin America, 17 percent are from Asia, 9 percent are from the Middle East and 7% from Africa.

And in July 2021, the HFPA announced a ban on gifts, saying members “shall not be permitted to accept promotional materials or other gifts from studios, publicists, actors, directors, or others associated with motion pictures and television programs,” as Reuters reported at the time.

“This is really not the old HFPA anymore,” HFPA president Helen Hoehne told THR in an interview published this month. “Over the past 18 months — almost two years now — we took a deep look inward and listened to the criticism. The changes that we’ve made were the expansion of our voting body, the universal gift ban. We are one of the only awards shows that has a universal gift ban. And we built a new infrastructure that transformed our organization and the awards show into something that is more diverse, transparent, and responsive. We are the only major awards show that is voted on by a majority of women and by a majority of voters who self-identify as ethnically diverse.”

These efforts have pleased some Hollywood insiders. “Many of us — in a truly collective effort — held the organization accountable, and many of us are encouraged by the strides and commitment that have resulted,” Kelly Bush Novak, chief executive of the publicity and marketing firm ID, told The New York Times.

Others are ambivalent, taking a wait-and-see approach. “I don’t trust them, despite all the changes they’ve made,” a publicist told Deadline. “Many of the same old members who were the problem are still there. But it is a competitive season and everyone’s looking for an edge, and winning a Golden Globe used to kind of provide that going into the Oscars. So I’m looking at it on a case-by-case basis, consulting with clients on what they want to do.”

And some are still suspicious of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. “Too many members are still paid salaries by the HFPA — that tells me all I need to know about how much they’ve changed,” a producer said to Deadline. “Still self-serving, still protecting their own beyond reason. This isn’t change, it’s not even window dressing. It’s manipulation.”

Hoehne, however, promises more change to come. “What I would like the industry to know is that this is not the finish line,” she told THR. “It’s a journey that will continue in the years to come.”

80th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Tuesday, January 10, 8/7c, NBC and Peacock

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