Entertainment

Time’s Up calls Golden Globes group’s reforms ‘window dressing’ as publicist boycott continues


One day after the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. voted to move ahead with a sweeping set of reforms, Time’s Up blasted the response as “window-dressing platitudes,” while a coalition of 100 publicity agencies said they will continue to withhold access to stars from the Golden Globes group.

“Sadly, the list of ‘reforms’ adopted yesterday, and endorsed by NBCUniversal and Dick Clark Productions, are sorely lacking and hardly transformational,” Time’s Up chief executive Tina Tchen said in a statement. “Instead, these measures ensure that the current membership of the HFPA will remain in the majority and that the next Golden Globes will be decided with the same fundamental problems that have existed for years.”

In approving the reforms, the HFPA had hoped to move on from months of controversy that have dogged the group since the publication of a Feb. 21 Times investigation that detailed allegations of ethical lapses and financial improprieties and revealed that the 86-member group of international journalists has no Black members.

Ratcheting up the pressure on the organization, a coalition of publicists representing many of the industry’s biggest stars issued an open letter in mid-March vowing to withhold access to their clients unless significant reforms were undertaken.

On Friday, that same group of publicists expressed concern about both the substance and the timetable of the proposed reforms. In a severe blow to the HFPA, the publicists said that their boycott of the HFPA would continue, cutting off the lifeblood of access that the organization depends on and raising serious questions about whether next year’s Golden Globe Awards will be able to go on as planned.

“We have specific concerns about the timeline for change as the traditional 2022 awards calendar approaches, lest we face another Golden Globes awards cycle and show under the existing problematic HFPA structure,” the publicists said in a statement. “We will continue to refrain from any HFPA sanctioned events, including press conferences, unless and until these issues are illuminated in detail with a firm commitment to a timeline that respects the looming 2022 season reality. We stand ready to collaborate with the HFPA to ensure that the next Golden Globes — be it in 2022 or 2023 — represents the values of our creative community.”

While NBC, which has aired the Globes since 1996, has publicly expressed support for the HFPA’s reforms, with the start of next year’s awards season now just a few months away, the continued criticism from some of Hollywood’s most powerful figures could increase pressure on the network to put the show on hiatus while the situation is resolved.

Representatives of NBC and HFPA were not immediately available for comment.

The publicists’ full statement and Time’s Up’s open letter to the HFPA are below:

Statement from a coalition of more than 100 publicity agencies:

We acknowledge the HFPA for defining the five foundational pillars – Accountability, Membership, Inclusion, Good Governance/Ethics and Transparency – it must examine, interrogate and reform in order for the HFPA to manifest the transformative change necessary to thrive as an ethical, credible and respected institution in our industry.

We have specific concerns about the timeline for change as the traditional 2022 awards calendar approaches, lest we face another Golden Globes awards cycle and show under the existing problematic HFPA structure. The proposed September 1st deadline for hiring a Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer with no mention of a deadline for hiring the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Financial Officer makes it impossible for necessary changes to happen in time to impact the 2022 Golden Globes cycle. In addition there has been no mention of the status of the HFPA’s General Counsel nor of the obvious need for a Chief Operating Officer. Lastly and more historically evidentiary, talent and content creators of color will not get a fair chance under this timeline.

There must be transparency about all recruitment processes and hiring decisions and the onboarding of these vital individuals must be completed well before the next HFPA season begins.

Unless the Globes are to be delayed until 2023, the vetting and approval of all plan specifics and implementation guidelines, along with the seating of a new Board under new bylaws, must be accomplished without delay. This requires an explanation of the process to welcome non-HFPA members to serve on the Board and a full understanding of the drafting, oversight and vetting process of new bylaws.

Similarly, membership goals and representation must be achieved more swiftly, so that new members do not remain in the minority for another year.

We will continue to refrain from any HFPA sanctioned events, including press conferences, unless and until these issues are illuminated in detail with a firm commitment to a timeline that respects the looming 2022 season reality. We stand ready to collaborate with the HFPA to ensure that the next Golden Globes – be it in 2022 or 2023 – represents the values of our creative community.

We are reminded of the HFPA’s 1943 motto, conceived by the original group of foreign journalists: “Unity Without Discrimination of Religion or Race”. Seventy-eight years hence, your commitment to swift and deliberate action remains essential.

TIME’S UP’s Open Letter to the HFPA:

On May 6, 2021, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) adopted a list of reforms that were supposed to demonstrate its commitment to transformational change that would finally uproot the systemic and longstanding racism, misogyny, and corruption widely reported as endemic to the HFPA and the Golden Globe Awards.

But after months of introspective examination, multiple consultants, and industry leaders offering their expertise to help the HFPA transform, these window-dressing platitudes are sorely lacking and hardly transformational. Instead, these proposed measures ensure that the current membership of the HFPA will remain in the majority for years to come, and that the next Golden Globes, which will have started by then, will be riddled with the same fundamental problems that have existed for years.

The HFPA’s list of recommendations largely contains no specifics, no commitments to real accountability or change, and no real timeline to implement these changes. What few items have a proposed September 1 deadline come too late to represent real change for this coming awards season.

We wish the HFPA had responded with a plan for change that reflected the industry-wide discontent with its practices, THIS YEAR. Instead, the HFPA is simply trying to push forward with “business as usual” — urging industry members to submit their projects for consideration in order to avoid missing imminent deadlines for the next awards season, all while its proposed plan purposely keeps the deeply problematic governance in control.

Months ago, TIME’S UP sent a list of precise recommendations to the HFPA that included guidance on membership and governance, ethics and safety protections, and nominations and awards. Sadly, not only did the HFPA ignore those recommendations (the HFPA leadership themselves never took our offer to meet with them), but the HFPA also purposely skirted around all of our specific calls to action, as laid out below.

An immediate change in the current management and board.

  • HFPA’s plan involves a two-year process, the start of which takes us too far past this year’s awards milestones, and ensures that existing members will remain in the majority for the 2022 awards season.
  • There is no bar to existing leadership standing for reelection. In fact, there has been no demonstration that anyone in the existing leadership or staff has taken responsibility for the problems within the HFPA.

An immediate reform and expansion of membership in numbers sufficient to eliminate insularity, ensure journalistic credibility, and create real change.

  • The HFPA’s timeline of increasing new membership by 50% over the next 18 months —only 43 new members in addition to the existing 86 — ensures that its current membership will continue to hold majority rule for the foreseeable future, ultimately silencing any new members who would join.
  • The supposed reforms to their membership criteria and undefined roles for third parties on the board or in the membership process provide no assurance that decisions to admit new members will be made in an equitable and inclusive manner with full transparency and oversight.

Complete transparency and external accountability around processes for establishing and welcoming new members, board members, and management.

  • The vague promises of unnamed outside consultants and oversight are insufficient.
  • There is no definition of what authority those third parties would have over the HFPA decisions and operations, or even their scope of work. Simply promising to hire another DEI consultant, after losing its original one, without these details these details is empty.
  • In contrast, our recommendations provided key steps on the oversight of decisions around new members, election of new leadership, and nominations by outside experts immediately while the HFPA works to truly transform itself.

New and published ethics policies, as well as anti-harassment, anti-bullying, and anti-discrimination policies that will provide protections to employees, members, partners, contractors, and participants in all HFPA events.

  • The undefined promise to revise the HFPA code of conduct provides no information on what values will be at the core of those revisions or who would be covered by the code. The suggestion of establishing a hotline for individuals to report past, present, and future conduct violations is a basic requirement for any accountability policy. But to be clear, it is not the mechanism to achieve reform. The responsibility to make reform happen should be placed on those in positions of leadership, not on those who have already been harmed.

Immediate reform of the awards process itself so that the process is transparent and enforced with fair criteria for screening and consideration.

  • Noticeably absent from the HFPA list is any mention of changes to the deeply troubled nominations and awards process.
  • Despite multiple prior controversies, the HFPA stays silent about the need to review their existing award categories and rules to eliminate any discriminatory criteria and ensure those rules are enforced with fairness and consistency.
  • There has been no response to the recent disclosures about HFPA members not attending screenings and conferences for artists of color. And the HFPA’s list of reforms does not even include a requirement that voting members will perform the basic function of watching nominated projects.

The HFPA — through the Golden Globe Awards, and with the support of NBCUniversal and Dick Clark Productions — has set itself up to pass judgment on the American entertainment industry. The awards process can make or break careers and has an outsize impact on our broader culture. Yet what we have seen from the HFPA falls far short of what is required to transform the organization. Our community of vibrant creatives across all racial, ethnic, and gender backgrounds deserve better.




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