A lot has happened in Hollywood in the past few days, folks! The folks behind the Golden Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), recently announced their reform plan, following the—I really cannot put this any other way—PR nightmare of news surrounding the organizations reported diversity and inclusion fails.
The plan, which has already begun or is set to begin immediately is as follows:
Identifying a vendor to set up a hotline (in process).
Hiring a search firm that will put together a list of potential C-suite candidates.
Identifying new members to increase the membership more than 50 percent in the next 18 months, with new members being allowed to vote on the Golden Globes.
Creating a list of DEI consultants (in process).
Retaining Ropes & Gray to ensure seamless implementation of the plan.
“Today’s overwhelming vote to reform the Association reaffirms our commitment to change,” Ali Sar, president of the HFPA said in a statement sent to The Root. “That’s why we’ve already taken some action that will allow us to make swift progress. Because we understand the urgency and issue of transparency, we will be continuously updating the members as we move forward in making our organization more inclusive and diverse. Again, we understand that the hard work starts now. We remain dedicated to becoming a better organization and an example of diversity, transparency and accountability in the industry.”
Speaking specifically to the scathing reports of zero Black members within the organization, an HFPA spokesperson informed The Root that “we want to reaffirm our commitment to bringing Black and other racially diverse journalists into our organization, which we feel can be accomplished by lifting many of the membership barriers, building pipelines with diverse journalist groups, and developing a long-term plan in partnership with a new Chief Diversity Officer.”
Following the Golden Globes broadcast network’s initial response to HFPA’s proposed plan, an NBC spokesperson also sent the following official statement to The Root: “We believe that the plan presented charts a course for meaningful reform at the HFPA. We remain committed to encouraging the plan’s prompt implementation through productive conversations so that the HFPA can emerge a better and more inclusive organization.”
However, Netflix doesn’t seem to be too impressed. According to Deadline, Netflix made an official statement on the HFPA’s overhaul plan, which was decided based on a vote from 75 of the HFPA’s 86 existing members.
“Today’s vote is an important first step,” Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos wrote to HFPA in a letter sent on Thursday. “However, we don’t believe these proposed new policies—particularly around the size and speed of membership growth—will tackle the HFPA’s systemic diversity and inclusion challenges, or the lack of clear standards for how your members should operate.”
Sarandos expressed disappointment at the HFPA’s “collective failure to address these crucial issues with urgency and rigor” and, in turn, vowed to remove Netflix’s participation with anything associated with the organization.
“So we’re stopping any activities with your organization until more meaningful changes are made,” Sarandos added.
“We hear your concerns about the changes our association needs to make and want to assure you that we are working diligently on all of them,” Sar responded to Sarandos on Friday. “We would love to meet with you and your team so we can review the very specific actions that are already in the works. “An open dialogue would help to ensure that we are addressing these concerns as quickly as possible.” In the HFPA response letter, Sar also pointed out some clarifications, including reiterating that their 50 percent membership growth minimum will be fulfilled in 18 months, not 36 months.
I guess we’ll see what happens should the meeting between the HFPA and Netflix occur!
Amazon Studios also joined Netflix in publicly announcing its plan to not engage with the HFPA until satisfactory actions are implemented. “We have not been working with the HFPA since these issues were first raised, and like the rest of the industry, we are awaiting a sincere and significant resolution before moving forward,” Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke said in a statement on Friday night, per The Hollywood Reporter.
Prior to Netflix’s and Amazon’s statements, other organizations had released statements about the HFPA plan.
“We are pleased to see the members of the HFPA commit to this plan,” a spokesperson from Dick Clark Productions, the company that produces the Globes ceremony, said in a statement about the plan. “It’s a big step in the right direction as they now turn to taking immediate steps to implement. The external advisors and many advocacy groups who have come to the table for an open dialogue are a vital part of the reimagination of the organization as we all march toward a more inclusive and transparent future.”
“If the changes are implemented as promised, the plan will indeed be transformational. We are committed to monitoring implementation and helping HFPA do what it says it will do,” National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) President Dorothy Tucker said in a statement on Thursday. “Too many times organizations say they are going to do one thing in the diversity, equity and inclusion arena only to fall short of expectations. We will be vocal and proactive in our actions on the progress and, if necessary, the lack of progress the HFPA makes in bringing its plan to fruition.”
Update: 5/10/2021, 2:36 p.m. ET: Welp, and just like that...the plot thickens. On an otherwise slow Monday, an NBC spokesperson dropped a bomb in The Root’s inbox, confirming the network will not be airing the 2022 Golden Globes ceremony.
“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform,” an NBC spokesperson said in a statement. “However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right. As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes. Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”
The Root has reached out to HFPA representatives for comment in response to NBC’s recent statement.
Update: 5/10/2021, 4:59 p.m. ET: The Hollywood drama can’t stop and won’t stop escalating quickly! WarnerMedia joined Netflix and Amazon in halting all dealings with the HFPA.
“While we commend the HFPA membership’s approval of the plan to move towards radical reform, we don’t believe the plan goes far enough in addressing the breadth of our concerns, nor does your timeline capture the immediate need by which these issues should be addressed,” a WarnerMedia spokesperson told Deadline in a statement.
But, that’s not even all. Tom Cruise announced on Monday that he has returned all three of his Globes statuettes in protest of the HFPA. This is major given the ongoing discussions of dismantling awards culture. For that to be taken seriously, several high profile insiders would have to remove credibility from these organizations’ statuettes...even when they win. With Cruise’s move, it looks like that may be on the horizon.
Of course, awards are just the tip of the iceberg. We still have an ongoing systemic fight within the Hollywood structure itself. After all, it’s that very culture that leads to epic awards season fails such as this.