LOS ANGELES – In Hollywood, the saying goes, the show must go on. Even, it seems, if there is no show.
So, on Sunday evening, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — which brought NBC off the air after months of heated controversy sparked by an investigation into the Los Angeles Times in February 2021 — handed out the 79th Golden Globe Awards in a glam-free gala. . A special event in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton, with no celebrities, no host, and no free-flowing champagne.
As in any year, tonight had the biggest winners. Director Jane Campion’s “Power of the Dog” won Best Film in the Drama category, and Steven Spielberg’s sweeping new West Side Story took first prize in the Musical or Comedy category. HBO’s “Succession” and “Hacks” won the series’ top awards, while actors including Will Smith, Nicole Kidman, Michael Keaton and Kate Winslet took home the accolades as well.
But none of the winners chose to attend the event. There weren’t any stars for quick comedic banter or tearful acceptance speeches. And no one was watching.
With the stars disappearing, the HFPA’s recent problems and its ongoing efforts to deliver on the promised reforms have been brought to light.
“Last year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was challenged to change — and we did,” Helen Hohen, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, said in her remarks. “We are on a journey of change and we will not rest. We will be candid about what we learn and challenge others to join us.”
Nearly 70 of the HFPA’s 105 members gathered for the black-tie ceremony and reception, according to an attendee, along with a few new recipients of charitable grants from the organization and other friends and supporters of the organization. With the pandemic raging for the second year in a row in the usual awards tradition, strict protocols have been followed over the coronavirus.
Where in previous years the Hilton had been the epicenter of Hollywood glamour, power and money, there was only a quiet Sunday night, with only the Hilton staff and an inattentive hotel guest passing outside the ballroom. A modest reception was held on the pool deck afterwards. But there were no fancy, expensive studio-hosted parties, no limousines, no gift bags, no sexy red carpet interviews, no flashlights.
With the event neither televised nor live-streamed—and with the media barred from covering it in person—the HFPA unveiled this year’s winners to the public on its website and across social media, a format sorely lacking in the snap and bang of a live TV show featuring Hollywood’s funniest and most talented talent. gravity.
“If laughter is the best medicine, WestSideMovie is the cure for what’s bothering you,” read a tweet announcing the big win for “West Side Story,” a tragic love story involving racial tensions that isn’t meant to be funny. (The tweet was later revised to read “If music is the best medicine…”)
Several tweets failed to cite the work for which the winner was honored: “Save the drama for Will Smith, who received a #GoldenGlobe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture – Drama,” read one.
For the HFPA, the silent event—which many casual Globes viewers were likely unaware of—is a dizzying stumble from the improbable influence that the small cadre of foreign entertainment journalists has enjoyed for decades. In the fight for its survival, the organization was as determined to hand out its awards as it had done for nearly 80 years. But the run-up to the event was overshadowed by questions about whether it had any real meaning or relevance.
“If a tree wins a Golden Globe in the woods but isn’t on TV, will it still make an embarrassing speech?” Conan O’Brien joked on Twitter on Friday.
Although often haunted by questions of credibility and legitimacy, the Globes has long been described as “Hollywood’s Party of the Year,” drawing a jubilant crowd of A-list listeners and, in pre-pandemic times, an audience of nearly 18 million viewers. But in the wake of the Los Angeles Times investigation, which raised questions about the ethics and governance of the HFPA and highlighted the fact that the then-87-member group had no black members, the association’s members were nearly banished by an industry that had long courted their favour.
Nearly a year ago, the HFPA made a series of reforms, overhauling its bylaws, hiring a chief diversity officer and bringing in 21 new members, including six who were black. At Sunday’s event, HFA sought to highlight its progress when it comes to consolidation issues, with Kyle Bowser, vice president of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, speaking about a five-year joint partnership the organization has forged with the HFPA, dubbed the “Reimagine Alliance.” To increase representation in the industry and support artists and journalists of color.
“This is a necessary stage of progress, achieving a meaningful and lasting transformation,” said Neil Phillips, the HFPA’s recently appointed diversity officer, in a speech shared on social media during the event. “Action and change require action and existence.”
However, the organization has struggled to restore the good graces of the industry. Its members used to enjoy special attention from celebrities and studios, and its members have faced a boycott led by the industry’s leading talent advocates, cutting it off from its lifeline of star power. When the HFPA announced this year’s nominations in December, the event — which kicked off rapper and boxer Snoop Dogg, who spoiled more than a few nominees’ names — was greeted with a mixture of silence and confusion.
Due to outside criticism and internal friction, the HFPA used Sunday’s event to highlight its charitable work, showcasing four of its newest grant recipients: Get Lit, St. Elmo Village, Streetlights, and Los Fotos. As the event continued, the Golden Globes Twitter account shared videos showcasing the work of the recipients, and actress Jamie Lee Curtis – seven-time Globes nominee and two-time winner – appeared in a video to “honor and stand with” the organization. charitable efforts. “I am proud to be associated with them on this project,” said Curtis, who has twice hosted banquets for HFPA grantees.
In recent years, the nonprofit has ramped up its charitable giving, donating millions of dollars annually to organizations that support the arts, journalism, and humanitarian causes. At the same time, the Los Angeles Times investigation revealed, the organization transferred an increasing amount each year – up to about $2 million in 2020 – to its rank and file to serve on several committees and perform various tasks.
“No other awards community shows so much love and generosity to others as the HFPA,” The Globes posted on its official live blog midway through the event.
But for all its efforts to burnish its reputation, the only real currency of the HFPA in Hollywood lies in the perceived value of its awards — and there, its stock fell. While prizes will be sent to this year’s winners, it remains to be seen if any of the stars will appreciate them — or whether any of the studios that pump out millions annually to attract Globes voters will promote wins in their marketing campaigns in the lead-up to that. The Oscars in March.
In fact, given the HFPA’s current problems, many in Hollywood feel it would have been better if the band simply sat down this year rather than trying to awkwardly move forward with a celebrity-free party.
“I think they definitely shot in the feet,” said a source who has dealt with the group for years but declined to give his name for fear of reprisals. They needed James Franco’s work: When are you? [screw up] Go up and away and let people miss you or hope they will. Instead, they were constantly in the news for things they shouldn’t be.”
(Authors Kristi Karas and Stacey Berman contributed to this report.)
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