Golden Globes: HFPA Unveils 2017 Date & Rule Changes Including Comedy/Drama

By Anita Busch, Erik Pedersen

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has set a date for the 74th annual Golden Globe Awards and announced some rule changes regarding eligibility. Topping the list of tweaks is stronger guidelines to distinguish between comedy and drama — following last year’s kerfuffle with The Martian winning for Best Musical or Comedy — and rules on Globes campaigning and advertising and several rules to try to prevent conflicts of interest for its voting membership.

Next year’s ceremony, produced by dick clark productions in association with HFPA, will be held Sunday, January 8. NBC will air it live nationwide starting at 5 PM PT from the Beverly Hilton.

Now, about those rules changes.

Regarding what’s a drama and what is a musical or comedy, the HFPA said: “Motion pictures shall be entered in the category that best matches the overall tone and content of the motion Thus, for example, dramas with comedic overtones should be entered as dramas.” As for musicals, they are defined as “a comedy or a drama in which songs are used in addition to spoken dialogue to further the plot.”

This past awards season, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi drama The Martian was voted into the Matt Damon The Martian ProfitBest Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy category by a single vote, according to Deadline’s Pete Hammond. The controversial decision prompted plenty of jokes of during the awards ceremony itself, especially after the film’s actor Matt Damon won Best Actor, Comedy or Musical. By changing this rule, it lessens the game-playing that is done to get films nominated and or win the Best Motion Picture category prior to the Oscars. Birdman and The Artist also were nominated in the musical/comedy category at the Globes before going onto win Best Picture at the Oscars.

Also new for 2017: During the period from the announcement of the nominations until the final Golden Globe ballots are submitted, HFPA members “should not be invited to and must not attend events (including parties, receptions, lunches and dinners and similar events) at which Golden Globe award nominees are present. HFPA members may continue to attend screenings and press conferences available to comparable members of the media at which nominees are present, but may not solicit individual press opportunities with nominees during this period.”

In fact, the HFPA leadership is instituting a number of new rules for its members by making sure they have not consulted or served as an independent contractor or employee in any capacity for any of the eligible TV and film projects up for nomination, that they do not vote for any TV or film that their immediate family or close relatives were involved in, and that they have not accepted cash or gifts of value (other than lodgings or token promotional items) from anyone who has a film or TV program up for consideration.

In addition, the HFPA is also reminding their membership of the Communications Act of 1934 about federal offenses saying, among other things, it’s against the law for any member to pay or give anything of value in exchange for an appearance on the awards show.

As for the toons: If fewer than 12 animated films qualify in a year, the category will be limited to three nominations that year.

There also are other rule changes for 2017 affecting both TV and film. Here are some highlights (read the full eligibility descriptions here):

  • Defining “original score” and specifying who should receive that award
  • Specifying who should receive the screenplay award
  • Providing procedures for determining whether motion pictures meet the“foreign language” requirements
  • Changing the foreign language motion picture eligibility period to a 15-month period to coincide with the Academy’s eligibility period
  • Specifying that qualifying motion picture screenings may not be held at HFPA offices
  • Changing the requirement of screeners (in addition to screenings) for foreign language motion pictures to a strong recommendation
  • Revising the distinction between motion picture and television categories to recognize the development of pay-per-view television series
  • Including a reference to “special” Golden Globe awards (already provided for in the bylaws)
  • Providing more details on the reminders list process and specifying our use of the 2/3 rule to overturn a studio’s category submission
  • Providing for a blackout period when studios and publicists may not lobby HFPA members about award classification issues
  • Allowing for advance determinations of categories upon request in August each year
  • Including the rule against inviting members to events with nominees during the period after the nominations are announced
  • Providing rules for advertisements referring to the Golden Globes

The HFPA also made some changes to the rules last year that affected both TV and film.

Movies became eligible that were released simultaneously in theaters and in other formats such as VOD. By making that change, the HFPA opened the doors to those that distribute film also through non-traditional means, like Netflix. Last year, too, potential nominees had to provide screeners for eligible films.

Last year in TV, the biggest change was that running time would no longer be a differentiating factor between series and limited series. The HFPA lowered the minimum length required for a TV series from six episodes to 150 min. By changing that rule, shows which no longer ran in the long-form categories because of their ongoing characters and produced less than six episodes were still eligible in the drama field. The other notable rule change last year in TV was that limited series which run in two different years will now be eligible only in the year in which the majority of episodes aired.

Denise Petski contributed to this report.

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