Committee to Protect Journalists Sees Surprise Spike in Hollywood Donations

Meryl Streep and Joel Simon - Split - Getty - H 2018
Left, Karwai Tang, right, Ben Hilder, both Getty Images

Meryl Streep returned to the Golden Globes on Jan. 7, a year after delivering an impassioned speech that would go viral and create a windfall of donations for the organization that she name-checked, the Committee to Protect Journalists. (About that windfall: In 2016, 2,031 individuals gave the CPJ a total of $977,845, and in 2017, 12,671 individuals gave CPJ a total of $2,903,058, a company exec tells The Hollywood Reporter.)

But while walking the red carpet, Streep seemed surprised to see CPJ executive director Joel Simon shuffling about in a sea of stars.

"It was very strange for me to be in that environment," Simon tells THR. "I staked out Meryl on the red carpet and when she saw me, she said, 'This isn't your natural habitat.'"

It's not, but Simon admitted to The Post star that he was there for a surprise, one that would come during the telecast when HFPA president Meher Tatna announced that her organization would gift the CPJ and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (the organization behind the Paradise and Panama Papers) $1 million each.

The move came on a night that saw journalism and the importance of journalists on display in Oprah Winfrey's Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech and via the six nominations for Steven Spielberg's The Post.

The CPJ — which primarily defends reporters at risk of imprisonment or death for their work in repressive countries and conflict zones and has focused on U.S. efforts over the last year during Donald Trump's presidency — is using its money to "strengthen our network of correspondents," while the ICIJ is using their grant to help purchase permanent headquarters in Washington.

After the show, Simon went past the velvet ropes again to attend HFPA's first official afterparty inside the Beverly Hilton. "It was like zero degrees in New York, so we went to the HFPA party, sat outside and had a great time," says Simon, who has been with the org since 1998 and served in the top role since 2006. "I saw Meryl there afterwards and got to talk to her again. I told her, 'You started all of this.' She was thrilled."