Golden Globes: Netflix “Stopping Any Activities” with HFPA Unless and Until Further Reforms Are Made

Ted Sarandos sent a letter to the HFPA's leadership committee on Thursday.

Netflix, which received more nominations (42) and wins (10) than any other studio or network at the 78th Golden Globe Awards in February, is “stopping any activities” with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization behind the Globes, “until more meaningful changes are made” to the group’s demographics and ethics policies, The Hollywood Reporter can confirm.

This warning, which came in the form of a letter from Netflix’s co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos, was conveyed to the HFPA’s leadership committee on Thursday afternoon, as Deadline was the first to report.

It arrived shortly after the HFPA’s membership voted to enact sweeping reforms proposed to it by their board, and one day before letters expressing similar sentiments were sent to the HFPA by Time’s Up and a coalition of more than 100 PR firms.

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“Like many in our industry, we’ve been waiting for today’s announcement in the hope that you would acknowledge the breadth of issues facing the HFPA and provide a clear roadmap for change,” Sarandos wrote. But the HFPA plan’s timetable — growing the organization by 50 percent over the next 18 months — was unacceptable to him, he wrote, “So we’re stopping any activities with your organization until more meaningful changes are made.”

THR has learned that Sarandos was particularly displeased that some 10 percent of the current HFPA membership did not support the plan — either voting against it, abstaining or not bothering to participate in the vote at all. “We know that you have many well-intentioned members who want real change,” Sarandos continued, “and that all of us have more work to do to create an equitable and inclusive industry. But Netflix and many of the talent and creators we work with cannot ignore the HFPA’s collective failure to address these crucial issues with urgency and rigor.”

Sarandos’ missive also suggested that the HFPA needs to provide more specifics about not just the organization’s plans to its demographic shortcomings, but also its rules and regulations pertaining to campaigning. A concern of some talent that works with Netflix — including Shonda Rhimes — has been the fact that the HFPA asks for talent to participate in HFPA-specific press conferences, but that press conferences involving Black talent are often poorly attended.

Sarandos’ letter prompted responses from Hollywood figures including Ava DuVernay, who tweeted: “Damn. This is a big deal. Props to Netflix for being first to take a stand.” Meanwhile, Shonda Rhimes wrote on social media: “Once again, Netflix shows how it can and should be done. This is how to be the change.” Reese Witherspoon tweeted, “Glad to see @netflix dedication to creating a more equitable and inclusive entertainment industry.”

It remains to be seen where the standoff goes from here. The HFPA’s broadcasting partners for the Golden Globes telecast, NBC and Dick Clark Productions, both endorsed the organization’s proposed reforms prior to the letters from Time’s Up and the PR firms, and NBC issued another statement after those letters went out, doubling-down: “We believe that the plan presented charts a course for meaningful reform at the HFPA. We remain committed to encouraging the plan’s prompt implementation through productive conversations so that the HFPA can emerge a better and more inclusive organization.”

But without the participation of talent, there won’t be much of a telecast to speak of.

8:42 p.m.: Updated with tweets from Ava DuVernay and Shonda Rhimes.

May 8, 3:04 p.m.: Updated with Reese Witherspoon tweet.