NBC and dick clark productions may be on board with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s latest attempts at reform and inclusion, but Time’s Up and Tinseltown’s top PR gurus are clearly not drinking the Kool-Aid.
“The window-dressing platitudes adopted yesterday are neither the transformation that was promised nor what our creative community deserves,” Time’s Up president Tina Tchen said Friday after a meeting with Hollywood public relations firms and Color of Change. “Any organization or sponsors that set themselves up to pass judgment on our vibrant community of creators and talent must do better,” Tchen added (read the full Time’s Up statement below).
In an open letter accompanying the statement, Time’s Up made its point with more blunt force.
“Yet what we have seen from the HFPA falls far short of what is required to transform the organization,” the advocacy group said. “Our community of vibrant creatives across all racial, ethnic, and gender backgrounds deserve better.”
The statement and the letter come one day after a majority of the HFPA’s membership backed a wide-ranging proposal for at least the semblance of change from the Golden Globes group’s board. Further alterations to the HFPA’s bylaws require more balloting net month and in July, due to California law.
As Time’s Up made their statements, more than 100 global PR firms today reiterated their concerns about the state of the HFPA, spotlighting a timeline that they see destined to fail. Such an outcome could see the 2022 Golden Globes at least paused, if not axed, the publicists note.
“We have specific concerns about the timeline for change as the traditional 2022 awards calendar approaches, lest we face another Golden Globes awards cycle and show under the existing problematic HFPA structure,” the PR letter stated, taking direct aim at the marquee elements of the HFPA’s proposed reform.
“The proposed September 1st deadline for hiring a Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer with no mention of a deadline for hiring the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Financial Officer makes it impossible for necessary changes to happen in time to impact the 2022 Golden Globes cycle,” they wrote. “In addition there has been no mention of the status of the HFPA’s General Counsel nor of the obvious need for a Chief Operating Officer. Lastly and more historically evidentiary, talent and content creators of color will not get a fair chance under this timeline.”
Read Tchen’s statement and the PR firms’ full letter below.
On Monday, the HFPA put forth its latest plan for inclusion and reform after months of criticism that began after it was revealed that the nonprofit hasn’t had a Black member for 20 years. The current membership overwhelmingly passed the recommendations, which along with the exec search to create a “professional management staff” include setting up a hotline to report conduct violations. The vote also means the HFPA can begin to look for new members, with the aim to add 20 over the next year and increase the group’s total membership by 50% in the next two years.
The HFPA said it also will change the way money changes hands internally, hold members accountable and limit board terms.
In that context, you may have noticed that the PR gurus’ statement singled out the jobs of General Counsel and COO are not being on the HFPA’s hiring list.
Holding almost all the keys to all the cabinets and skeleton closets of the HFPA, both those positions are currently held by George Goeckner. The former MPA head in-house lawyer has been at the HFPA for several years and is seen as the real power in the place by many in the know. Keeping Goeckner in place, as seems to be the plan right now, pretty much renders any new executive hires and hierarchy DOA.
Still, long time Globes broadcaster NBC today came out once again to back the HFPA’s reforms. Having been pushing and cajoling the organization to let in more members and sunshine, so to speak, the Comcast-owned NBC said they “remain committed to encouraging the plan’s prompt implementation through productive conversations so that the HFPA can emerge a better and more inclusive organization.”
Of course, holding on to the influential and lucrative Globes, even at a $60 million a year price tag, is also something NBC remains committed to.
Having come out strong against the HFPA’s lack of any Black members, the National Association of Black Journalists isn’t quite ready to drink from the communal cup.
“If the changes are implemented as promised, the plan will indeed be transformational,” NABJ president Dorothy Tucker said in a posting on the venerable organization’s site late yesterday after the HFPA membership vote.
“We are committed to monitoring implementation and helping HFPA do what it says it will do,” Tucker added. “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.”
Time may or may not be up.
Tchen’s full statement:
May 6 was the day the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) said the Golden Globes would detail its commitment to transformational change and would finally uproot the systemic and longstanding racism, misogyny, and corruption widely reported as endemic to the HFPA and the Golden Globe Awards.
Sadly, the list of ‘reforms’ adopted yesterday, and endorsed by NBCUniversal and Dick Clark Productions, are sorely lacking and hardly transformational. Instead, these measures ensure that the current membership of the HFPA will remain in the majority and that the next Golden Globe Awards will be decided with the same fundamental problems that have existed for years.
The HFPA’s list of recommendations largely contains no specifics, no commitments to real accountability or change, and no real timeline to implement these changes. The HFPA’s proposed September 1 deadline for some — but not all — reforms comes well after the next award cycle will have started. And even its proposal to increase membership by 50% comes with no commitments that the decisions to admit new members will be made in an equitable and inclusive manner with full transparency and oversight.
Even more striking is the complete silence from the HFPA about reforms to the deeply-troubled nominations and awards process. This includes the absence of any commitment to ensure that the Golden Globe awards and categories are free from discriminatory criteria, that the practice of unprofessional, exclusive press conferences will end, or that voting members will perform the basic function of watching the nominated projects.
The window-dressing platitudes adopted yesterday are neither the transformation that was promised nor what our creative community deserves. Any organization or sponsors that set themselves up to pass judgment on our vibrant community of creators and talent must do better.
Here’s the PR firms’ letter:
We acknowledge the HFPA for defining the five foundational pillars – Accountability, Membership, Inclusion, Good Governance/Ethics and Transparency – it must examine, interrogate and reform in order for the HFPA to manifest the transformative change necessary to thrive as an ethical, credible and respected institution in our industry.
We have specific concerns about the timeline for change as the traditional 2022 awards calendar approaches, lest we face another Golden Globes awards cycle and show under the existing problematic HFPA structure. The proposed September 1st deadline for hiring a Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer with no mention of a deadline for hiring the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Financial Officer makes it impossible for necessary changes to happen in time to impact the 2022 Golden Globes cycle. In addition there has been no mention of the status of the HFPA’s General Counsel nor of the obvious need for a Chief Operating Officer. Lastly and more historically evidentiary, talent and content creators of color will not get a fair chance under this timeline.
There must be transparency about all recruitment processes and hiring decisions and the onboarding of these vital individuals must be completed well before the next HFPA season begins.
Unless the Globes are to be delayed until 2023, the vetting and approval of all plan specifics and implementation guidelines, along with the seating of a new Board under new bylaws, must be accomplished without delay. This requires an explanation of the process to welcome non-HFPA members to serve on the Board and a full understanding of the drafting, oversight and vetting process of new bylaws.
Similarly, membership goals and representation must be achieved more swiftly, so that new members do not remain in the minority for another year.
We will continue to refrain from any HFPA sanctioned events, including press conferences, unless and until these issues are illuminated in detail with a firm commitment to a timeline that respects the looming 2022 season reality. We stand ready to collaborate with the HFPA to ensure that the next Golden Globes – be it in 2022 or 2023 – represents the values of our creative community.
We are reminded of the HFPA’s 1943 motto, conceived by the original group of foreign journalists: “Unity Without Discrimination of Religion or Race”. Seventy-eight years hence, your commitment to swift and deliberate action remains essential.