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It’s bad enough for a Hollywood organization to invoke the ire of Time’s Up, the coalition formed in the wake of #MeToo to combat workplace discrimination, but in this town, when publicists — the gatekeepers of “talent” — are upset with you, you are truly facing an existential crisis.
That is the predicament facing the Hollywood Foreign Press Association this week as the fallout continues from the Los Angeles Times‘ Feb. 21 exposé about the shadowy organization of journalists behind the annual Golden Globe Awards. The piece specified questionable ethical and financial behavior by members, and also revealed that there are currently zero Black members of the 87-person organization.
Ahead of the 78th Golden Globe Awards on Feb. 28, Time’s Up launched a campaign — amplified by numerous Hollywood A-listers via social media — calling on the HFPA to state specific plans for reforming itself. The HFPA acknowledged that it needs to change in a written statement and during a brief segment on the Globes telecast, and then on March 9 announced that it had retained a diversity consultant and a law firm to conduct an internal review.
This was not enough to tamp down concern on the part of Time’s Up and Hollywood’s leading personal PR firms, which began emailing with each other on March 9 and scheduled a March 10 meeting on Zoom. Ever since, they have been honing a letter to get it to the point that they all feel comfortable with. By Monday afternoon, more than 100 firms — virtually every major one on both sides of the Atlantic — had signed on to the unprecedented missive.
This threat should cause significant alarm among the members of the HFPA, most of whom only gain access to top Hollywood talent, via interviews and press conferences, because of their HFPA membership. They then use that content for stories which they either deliver to an editor, if they are regularly employed, or shop around, if they are a freelancer, in order to make a living.
The letter, which was sent late Monday, reads:
Greg Goecker, COO & General Counsel
Ali Sar, President
Meher Tatna, Board Chair
Hollywood Foreign Press Association
646 N. Robertson Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
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.
While we stand ready to support your good faith efforts, please know that anything less than transparent, meaningful change that respects and honors the diversity and dignity of our clients, their colleagues and our global audience will result in immediate and irreparable damage to the relationship between our agencies, our clients and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and those who sanction the institutional inquity and insular culture that currently define it.
The eyes of the industry and those who support it are watching.
align Public Relations
American Entertainment Marketing (AEM)
Anderson Public Relations Group
Ascend Public Relations Group
Carol Marshall Public Relations
Cassandra Butcher PR & Marketing
Cinematic Red PR
Core PR Group
Elzer & Associates
Flash Forward Publicity
Full Coverage Communications
Guttman Associates Public Relations
Heidi Schaeffer Public Relations
Image Management PR
Independent Public Relations
Jill Fritzo Public Relations
Joy Fehily Management + Consulting
Katrina Wan PR
Katz Public Relations
LSG Public Relations
Main Stage Public Relations
Marleah Leslie & Associates
McClure & Associates Public Relations
Meghan Prophet Public Relations
MRC Publicity and Marketing
Nancy Seltzer & Associates
Patricola Public Relations
Paula Woods Consultants
Pinnacle Public Relations
Platform Public Relations
PMG-Platform Media Group
Presse Public Relations
Principal Communications Group
Prism Media Group
Public Eye Communications
Red Sea Entertainment
Rogers & Cowan/PMK
Rosenfield Media Group
Schure Media Group
Strategic Heights Media
Strategic Public Relations
SYStrategies & PR
Tencer & Associates
The Chamber Group
The Collins Jackson Agency
The Initiative Group
The Lede Company
The Oriel Company
The Samonte Group
True Public Relations
VanIden Public Relations
UPDATE: Tina Tchen, president and CEO of Time’s Up, said in a statement issued later on Monday, “We are proud to be in solidarity with the voices of over 100 Hollywood PR firms in calling for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to radically transform the Golden Globes. We agree that anything less than transparent, meaningful change will no longer be acceptable. The entire world is watching.”
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