More Than 100 PR Firms Told Their Clients To Ignore The Golden Globes Until They Promised To Follow-Through On Their Diversity Commitment
Last month, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association addressed the big ol’ elephant in the room when three of their members, Vice President Helen Hoehne, Chair Meher Tatna, and President Ali Sar, took to the stage at the 2021 Golden Globe Awards and promised that they’d finally get serious about diversity. Something made all the more obvious by the work that was snubbed this year. The HFPA swore they were going to do something, and they did do something. For example, the Los Angeles Times discovered that the HFPA voted not to hire a diversity consultant. That’s technically doing something, right?
Much like the rest of us, a whole lot of Hollywood PR firms are sick of hearing the HFPA cross their hearts and swear they care about their diversity problem, so they actually did something. Specifically, they instructed their clients to not go to HFPA events until they commit to real meaningful change.
The Los Angeles Times has been on the HFPA’s ass since last month, when they published a behind the scenes investigation on the Golden Globes. That’s where we learned that Paramount treated about 30 HFPA members to an all expenses paid trip to Paris and put them up in $1400-a-night hotel rooms for two nights, courtesy of the series Emily in Paris (Emily in Paris would go on to receive multiple GG nominations). But it’s also where we learned there isn’t a single Black person out of the 87 members who make up the HFPA. Then the HFPA admitted they hadn’t had a Black member in two whole decades. This situation should have been as easy as posting an ad on Indeed saying: “Are you a Black journalist? Can you email your resume immediately??? Because we’re the HFPA and boy, are we in trouble.” But they didn’t. Which is why PR reps from Slate (who reps Jennifer Aniston and Ryan Gosling) and 42 West (who works with Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds) sent this letter to the HFPA yesterday. via The Hollywood Reporter:
As publicists we collectively represent the vast majority of artists in the entertainment industry. We call on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to swiftly manifest profound and lasting change to eradicate the longstanding exclusionary ethos and pervasive practice of discriminatory behavior, unprofessionalism, ethical impropriety and alleged financial corruption endemic to the HFPA, funded by Dick Clark Productions, MRC, NBCUniversal and Comcast.
In the last decade our industry has faced a seismic reckoning and begun to address its failure to reflect and honor the diversity of our community, yet we have witnessed no acceptance of responsibility, accountability or action from the HFPA, even as systemic inequity and egregious behavior are allowed to continue. We collectively and unequivocally agree that transformative change in your organization and its historical practices is essential and entirely achievable. We want to be part of the solution.
To reflect how urgent and necessary we feel this work is, we cannot advocate for our clients to participate in HFPA events or interviews as we await your explicit plans and timeline for transformational change.
This is a power move, because the HFPA needs publicists to get access to A-list talent, like for interviews or at press junkets. It’s also not great because this is the second time a major organization has tried to hold the HFPA accountable for their misdeeds. Time’s Up took aim at the Golden Globes in both 2018 and 2019, when the HFPA failed to nominate a single female director in either year. Tina Tchen, president and CEO of Time’s Up, said in a statement to THR that they stand in solidarity with all those PR firms, and agree that it’s time the HFPA start operating in a transparent way.
Someone must have told the HFPA that a massive celebrity boycott would be majorly bad for business. And clearly, basement-level ceremony ratings puts the Golden Globes at risk of getting dragged over to the awards show graveyard and dumped in a shallow hole next to the CableACE Awards. So they released a statement promising to have 13% Black membership by next year’s Golden Globes ceremony:
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association reiterates that we are committed to making necessary changes within our organization and in our industry as a whole. We also acknowledge that we should have done more, and sooner. As a demonstration of our commitment, the board has unanimously approved a plan to increase membership to a minimum of 100 members this year, with a requirement that at least 13 percent of the membership be Black journalists. We are also continuing to work on the comprehensive initiatives announced last week. Our outside legal counsel has already begun to work on how to effectively implement transformational changes to our organization, including a comprehensive review of our governance and code of conduct, and Dr. Shaun Harper, our new strategic diversity advisor.
They go on to outline exactly how they plan on implementing change, like claiming that they will analyze recruitment and policies to make sure they align with diversity-equity-inclusion practices. Or workshopping potential changes with “advocacy groups and racially diverse partners.” Okay sure, let’s see how that goes. They’ve got 11 months, that’s more than enough time to figure this situation out. And while they’re at it, maybe they can also promise to commit to nominating less questionable garbage. You know what, no – that’s asking too much. They’re already tackling the diversity problem. One step at a time.