Freelance journalist Dominic Patten is covering the trial for Deadline.
“They stole the rights!” declared Hollywood Foreign Press Association lawyer Daniel Petrocelli in summing up Dick Clark Productions in his closing argument today. “The servant has become the master.” His courtroom audience included a crowd of past, present and probably future HFPA Presidents, as well as executives from DCP and its owner Red Zone Capitol, “because of 12 words slipped into a contract that nobody read.” Petrocelli said “our rights are being held hostage” by the the 1993 perpetuity amendment that is the focus of the case. Petrocelli said the HFPA “has a right” to get out of its relationship with DCP, “a company they certainly don’t trust.”
Trust was also a topic raised by DCP lawyer Marty Katz early this afternon duringduring the early afternoon in his own closing remarks. Calling attention to in-fighting within the HFPA — which even Judge A. Howard Matz described as seemingly “always in turmoil” — Katz cited the distrust former HFPA President Phil Berk, who was in attendance, had for others in his organization and for DCP. Over the years Katz said Berk was constantly “looking for a way to unravel the agreement” the production company had to produce the Golden Globes telecast on NBC.
Berk’s influence and conduct — including meetings and discussions with CBS CEO Les Moonves about his network taking the Globes from NBC — became the gist of Katz’s closing argument. “It was false claims,” said Katz of 2010 issues raised by a Berk-led HFPA, “not negotiations in good faith.” Pointing to the multi-million-dollar deals the production company had secured for the scandalized HFPA since the 1980s and its lucrative return to network TV, Berk’s singular goal was to find a way “to cut DCP out of the equation” by finding a way to invalidate the 1993 amendment.
To illustrate the legitimacy of the amendment, Brad Philips, also representing DCP, highlighted a December 10, 2002 HFPA meeting at which former president and current member Judy Solomon raised the topic of the deal with the production company and the network. Dick Clark Productions, Solomon said to no apparent objections according to the transcript, “has rights to the Globes until 2005 or as long as NBC wants it.”
What will Judge Matz’s ruling be in what he today called “this little drama”? When will it come? Only Matz knows, but as he pointed out February 7, no matter who wins or loses in his court this case could drag on and on.