Hollywood Foreign Press Association To Vote On Reforms Under Pressure From Publicists : NPR

NPR’s Audie Cornish speaks with Los Angeles Times official Stacy Perman about reforms the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will vote on Thursday under pressure from Hollywood’s top publicists.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This Thursday, the association that awards the Golden Globes will vote on reforms after more than a hundred hard-hitting Hollywood publicists threatened to stop doing business with the group. The reforms would fundamentally change the way the Hollywood Foreign Press Association does business.

STACY PERMAN: It’s a big question if that’s going to happen. And there are a lot of people waiting to see it. It’s not just the publicists and Time’s Up and these stakeholders, it’s NBC that airs the show and Dick Clark Productions that produces the show.

CORNISH: This is Stacy Perman, an employee of the LA Times who exposed years of unethical and potentially illegal conduct in an HFPA investigation. She spoke to us earlier today and I asked her about some of the behaviors in question.

PERMAN: You determined the range of topics such as sexism, racism and homophobia. Two that I can mention are: A publicist said they had an actor – a mature actor – and one of the members asked them: Do you still have sex at your age? And in another situation, an actor came out and they asked him if he was going to file for bankruptcy again. I mean, these are questions that are in some way inappropriate and certainly have nothing to do with the project you are talking about and intended to promote. More important, and perhaps more damaging, however, the HFPA would discourage customers – those customers, especially if they were people of color, if the projects they represented were led by people of color or non-A-listeners.

CORNISH: Why is it so important?

PERMAN: To get a nomination – a Golden Globe nomination – you must first stand in front of the HFPA, and that means one of their approved screenings and press conferences. So if you don’t get their attention, you won’t get a nomination. And a nomination – it has become a huge marketing tool in the industry that means attention to the projects, and it means cash register, which means money. Talent themselves, you know, with a nomination or a win on hand, can use that when they hit their next deal, so it’s part of the Hollywood ecosystem.

CORNISH: Based on your reporting, what do you think are some of the barriers to the organization right now? I mean what are the challenges here?

PERMAN: Well the challenges are that they enjoyed this cozy relationship. They have been isolated from their own behavior for a number of years. It was an open secret in Hollywood. I think their biggest obstacle is themselves. I mean, if you look at the makeup of the group, you have a number of members I would call reformers who seek change and who have not been very lucky from within. And then you probably have more members who are happy with the state of affairs. Many of them are not active journalists. This is a source of income for them.

You know that the issue of diversity was controversial. Some of them believe that they are diverse because they represent countries from all over the world. You don’t seem to understand the issue of racism. I mean, one of the points in our coverage is that after the Globes made these announcements that they were going to focus on diversity, they found that it was last year after the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement who rejected the idea of ​​getting a diversity consultant on board at the time. One of the reasons was that some of them felt diverse enough. You didn’t get it.

CORNISH: Right. And for the human context, they don’t have a black member, do they?

PERMAN: Right. This was one of the big realizations in our reporting, along with financial and ethical flaws, that they did not have black members. And that really sparked outrage in Hollywood.

CORNISH: Why do you think the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is coming to this exam?

PERMAN: Well, I think for a couple of reasons. I think it’s a problem that it’s 2021 and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is so far behind and deaf on the matter. But I also think the stories we tell are important. They reflect who we are. And the Golden Globes and the HFPA behind it have become an arbiter of culture, deciding which projects receive attention and who deserves that attention. And if you give that attention to a very close group, you are excluding a number of voices, stories, and reflections. And we’re just not here.

CORNISH: What happens next before I let you go? When can we expect them to speak next? Do you have any deadline to meet?

PERMAN: Well, on Thursday members are supposed to vote in principle on whether they will push ahead with the proposed changes that the law firm has put before them. And when that happens, if they vote yes, they will officially vote in July. And there will be some profound changes. But there are many questions as to whether they will vote yes. And if so, what happens next?

CORNISH: That Stacy Perman, LA Times employee.

Thanks for your time.

PERMAN: Thank you.

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