If an awards show happens, but there’s no one there to see it, does it make a sound?
We’re about to find out. The Golden Globes have been kicked off NBC for 2022, but the H.F.P.A. is officially planning to nominate and award winners this year, regardless of whether anyone accepts the trophies. In a Friday letter from H.F.P.A. president Helen Hoehne and interim C.E.O. Todd Boehly to studios and the group of publicists waging war against the organization, the leaders said for the first time that “we remain committed to awarding the 2022 Golden Globe winners.” They then proceeded to outline the revised rules for submitting films and shows for consideration.
Why?, you might ask. Don’t the Globes exist primarily to convince celebrities to gather in nice outfits and be shown on TV? Yes and no. The awards themselves do matter, as I’ve chronicled in this space, especially for the marketing of films throughout awards season. Plus, the H.F.P.A never said it wouldn’t give awards, and I understand the desire to keep the tradition alive, even amid the ongoing inclusion and governance scandal. It sends a message that the group isn’t just about a party and will continue its mission to celebrate and promote worthy projects, regardless of who shows up to kiss their rings. It’s the right move, both optically and practically.
Unless, of course, this year’s nominations are embarrassing, or stars use the nom news to crap on the H.F.P.A. anew, or even to renounce their honors. (Luckily for the H.F.P.A., Tom Cruise and Scarlett Johansson, the two highest-profile stars to “give back” their awards when the scandal broke, aren’t really in contention this year, unless the H.F.P.A. wants to honor Black Widow or give Johansson an honorary award for best performance by a lead actress in a short-lived lawsuit against Disney.)
An H.F.P.A. representative says they haven’t figured out how the nominations and awards will be announced. But remember, back in 2008, there was a Golden Globes press conference, rather than a usual show, thanks to the Writers Guild strike. It was awkward but got the job done. I’ve heard the H.F.P.A. will try something similar, maybe on the same night as the Critics Choice Awards (which used to be Globes Sunday), and invite news media to cover it. That’s not quite an NBC primetime extravaganza, but it’s better than nothing.
And at this point, it doesn’t look like the publicist-led boycott of the Globes will be ending anytime soon. Boehly, Hoehne, and other H.F.P.A. members, fresh off the announcement of diverse new additions and governance reforms, met with a few groups of talent flacks this week, including a Thursday Zoom with the gatekeeper faction led by Kelly Bush, Cindi Berger, and Marcel Pariseau. Depending on who you talk to, either small progress was made, or the publicists moved the goal posts again. H.F.P.A. press conferences continue to be a sticking point, with the P.R. pros wanting to end them entirely and the H.F.P.A. insisting that concerns about member behavior can be addressed without killing the access to talent that is the organization’s entire reason for existing in the first place.
One participant in the Thursday call passed along an amusing tidbit. Publicist Amanda Lundberg, in defending her role in this crusade, “said she doesn’t care what Matt Belloni writes about her, she’s not a gatekeeper, she’s an advocate,” this participant told me. Two things. First, when someone says she doesn’t care what a journalist writes about her, that person definitely cares what the journalist writes about her. And second, trust me, it was never my intention to become a chronicler of the Golden Globes, of all things. But this saga hits all the touchpoints of modern Hollywood: Power, leverage, race, identity, accountability, performative politics, conflicting agendas, hypocrisy, and, of course, money.