By Mike Reynolds
News that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is insisting its 79th annual Golden Globe Awards event will go ahead on January 9, 2022, despite NBC’s refusal to broadcast the show, has met with more than a few raised eyebrows in Hollywood.
Film studios, TV networks, and streaming service heads joined the countless publicists around town trying to fathom out how such an awards show could possibly go on.
Currently, none of the requirements needed for “business as usual” have been met, therefore, the show should not go on. If it somehow does, then NBC will not be televising it, according to the terms of all the changes the network demanded from the Association.
Publicists — both corporate and private (102 of the latter) — have not had their demands met either, which means that the Globe rule demanding that candidates for award consideration must be submitted by the candidates’ representatives themselves will, under that rule, result in zero accepted submissions!
Of course, the HFPA could get around that by temporarily dropping their regulation and adopting something akin to an “emergency COVID” amendment that will allow the Association to make its own nominations.
That said, how would this be possible if HFPA members are not invited to screenings or sent screeners? Would “Yes, I went to see the movie in a theater” or “I watched it on TV at home” suffice? Imagine the incredible cost to each member if they had to pay to see every movie released in the past 12 months? Add that to viewing all programs on traditional TV and via the various streaming services? It’s simply not possible!
Alas, if HFPA members didn’t view everything there would be calls of “bias” from every corner of the industry.
No studio or small-screen entity will, it’s been said, send anything to an HFPA member for review! Therefore, in order to complete that viewing task it could take members a year of continuous viewing — at least! So where do nominations come from? Will it be producers, directors, composers, or even the on-screen talent who put their own films/shows/performances up for consideration? After all, some want an award, any award, so badly that they may insist that their publicist submit their name or project.
Should that occur, will those people be held accountable for breaking the “no go” rule and opening the floodgates of “all is forgotten and forgiven”? We do have to remember that for unity to succeed it must be a “strong as your weakest link” united front ruling the day.
According to a recent story in Daily Variety, many studio publicists, “share the same apprehension (as the publicists for individual talent) on submitting their films and talent for Globes consideration. One high-ranking studio publicist who asked to stay anonymous — because this person didn’t want their movies to be punished at the Globes — says, “We are still navigating it, but we’re leaving it up to the talent. In most cases, we won’t submit.”
That’s a rather scary admission — a studio publicist frightened about being punished by the HFPA!
Then comes the conundrum of the awards evening! Who will attend the event, daring to be blacklisted for doing so? And who will present the actual awards?
Unless publicists and talent representatives back down, the 79th show will be a private event in the Beverly Hills Hilton ballroom, one with at least half the audience usually in attendance and 100 percent of the attendees being HFPA members and partners or friends.
However, one must factor in the egos within Hollywood and the desire for awards, no matter how major — or minor. Many people in this industry want to be recognized as much as possible and that means as many awards as they can get. Does this open the door for certain folks to suggest, “Well, publicists, studios, networks, and streamers are having this beef with HFPA but they’ve always been good to me, so I’ll go”?
But even here, such an appearance may cause those people to hesitate and rethink.
Remember, upon learning the news about the HFPA’s history, as revealed in the Los Angeles Times back in January 2021, none other than Tom Cruise returned every single Globe he’d been awarded over the years. How many people in the community want to jeopardize the future possibility of appearing with him?
Sadly, this is one of those situations where, if one entity breaks from the pack, they will all follow. Should something happen and an entity does break, would everyone currently boycotting the HFPA do a 180 and ignore the last few months and act like nothing happened?
Would NBC suddenly retract its promise of not airing the awards?
Alternatively and no matter what the overall NBC deal says — and it is a certainty that there’s no such thing as a specific “COVID clause” in the contract — if the show went ahead and NBC still refused to air it, might a streamer step up and broadcast the show? Imagine Netflix taking on the task and then coming away with more Globes than anyone else, which is likely to be the case with any upcoming awards show these days. There’s also the possibility of the HFPA airing the event for free, or setting up a pay-per-view site on social media, as they have the money to do so.
We are certainly in for an interesting few months. But for the moment, having won a Globe is still looked at as less than a glittering achievement. The “Golden” surrounding the Globes is more than tarnished.
Even if any or all of that is, somehow, overcome, the Globes face some very stiff competition. The 27th Critics Choice Awards will also be held that January 9 night, at the Fairmont Century Plaza, less than a mile away from Golden Globe Awards. The Critics Choice Awards, which normally air on the CW broadcast TV network, will be simultaneously aired on cable’s TBS. Traditionally, the Critics Choice event has always been a heavily star-studded affair, and with a dual TV transmission, this will be even more of an attraction, certain to deaden anything the HFPA might manage to put on.
Mike Reynolds (pictured above) is a Hollywood film-TV producer and a contributor to VideoAge.