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What is HFPA? Golden Globes scandal continues to grow

The Hollywood Foreign Press Agency is under fire for lack of diversity on the board. Pic credit: YouTube/EntertainmentTonight

As the Hollywood Foreign Press Agency remains under fire for their major lack in diversity among its serving members, the world’s attention is focusing on exactly what the agency is and how it came to exist.

What is the scandal about with HFPA?

The drama started back in February after the L.A. Times ran an article highlighting the lack of any Black members. The Time’s Up coalition, formed in response to the #MeToo movement to help prevent workplace gender discrimination and sexual misconduct, gave HFPA a detailed guidebook to follow in the wake of the scandal in order to ensure diversity needs are met.

In a lengthy letter addressed to NBC Universal chairman for Television and Streaming Mark Lazarus and Chairman of Entertainment Content for NBC Susan Rovner, Time’s Up addressed the controversy and demanded change.

The letter detailed the concerns over HFPA’s lack of action, saying, “We must fix the Golden Globes. Statements made by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) tonight and over the last several days indicate that the organization believes it can make the fix. Nothing shared thus far should make the industry confident that the organization alone will create the solution.”

“If the HFPA understood the social reckoning of these times, it would not have needed an LA Times exposé followed by negative global press and a pummeling on social media to announce
a commitment to change. The organization’s stated version of change is cosmetic – find Black people. That is not a solution.”

Time’s Up mentioned that HFPA embarrassingly could not recall the last time the agency had any Black members and urged NBC to take up the charge by dropping the awards show next season to show support for the cause.

What is HFPA and who are the members?

As described on the Golden Globes website, HFPA stands for the Hollywood Foreign Press Agency, a non-profit organization that hands out the Golden Globes each year. The website also explains that “HFPA members attend more than 300 interviews and countless movie and television screenings throughout each year” and that “the HFPA also instituted and co-produces the annual Golden Globe Awards, held in January each year.”

In 2015, Vulture magazine printed a list with a detailed breakdown of each member that serves on the HFPA board, with members coming from multiple countries all over the world.

Tom Cruise returned his Golden Globes in response to the scandal

Many Hollywood entertainers have responded to the controversy in different ways, with Scarlett Johansson saying it was time for major reform and Mark Ruffalo took to Twitter to say it was time to “do better.”

Tom Cruise has perhaps taken the boldest step, actually returning his three Golden Globes as his sign of protest against the HFPA. Cruise won Best Actor awards for Born on the Fourth of July and Jerry Maguire, as well Best Supporting Actor for Magnolia.

Mark Ruffalo shared his thoughts about the scandal with the HFPA. Pic credit: Twitter@MarkRuffalo
NBC dropped the Golden Globes in lieu of the controversy. Pic credit: Youtube/EntertainmentTonight

Some members have spoken out against HFPA

Even some members of the HFPA have spoken up and said that reform is necessary. Member Husam Asi spoke with Sky News about his views on the scandal, telling them, “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.”

He also commented on the failure of leadership to repair the damages done, sharing, “Clearly, they didn’t do their job, the management of the association is done by a small group of members.”

The Golden Globes suffered a huge drop in viewership this season, tanking from 18.4 million viewers last year to a mere 6 million this year. With multiple streaming services now dropping, or threatening to drop, the awards show it remains to be seen if the damages can be reversed and how swiftly meaningful change can be made.

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