Golden Globes: HFPA Chief on Lawsuits, Amy and Tina and Why 'The Butler' Is Missing (Q&A)

Issue 2 FEA Golden Globes Kingma Speaking - P 2014
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Issue 2 FEA Golden Globes Kingma Speaking - P 2014

This story first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

He started as a film projectionist in Amsterdam. Then, in 1989, he landed a job as a PA (for Robert Altman) and moved to Hollywood. For the past couple of decades, he has been an L.A.-based magazine photographer, shooting stars from Julia Roberts to Harrison Ford. But in 2013, at the ripe old age of 46, Theo Kingma added a line to his résumé usually reserved for industry veterans in their 70s -- he was elected president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It's a part-time gig requiring full-time energy: There are legal battles with Dick Clark Productions (owned by THR parent Guggenheim Partners) over producing rights (HFPA lost in 2013 but is appealing), dwindling assets (down from $21.4 million at the start of 2011 to $13.8 million at the start of 2012, mostly due to legal fees) and continuing criticism over how the Globes get awarded. Already, though, Kingma can point to at least two major accomplishments. The first, helping NBC and DCP land Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as hosts of last year's Globes. The second, getting Fey and Poehler to do it again this year.

Q&A: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on Golden Globes Drinking Games, Live Musicals and 'SNL'

Was it difficult to get Amy and Tina to return?

We knew we wanted them back. It just took time to convince them.

They actually committed to this year and next year.

That was a surprise. They asked to come back, which to me is an incredible compliment.

The HFPA is appealing the ruling that DCP can continue producing the show. Is it awkward to work with them?

It's very cordial. Whatever legal things might be going on are put aside. It is never mentioned. And I talk to these people 40, 50 times a day.

The Globes are being criticized for including a drama like Nebraska in the comedy and musical category.

It's the studio that submits the films. Only if our committee fully disagrees does the HFPA ask for it to be changed. Drama is drama, but comedy is so broad you can have Nebraska on one hand and Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat on the other.

ANALYSIS: Drama or Musical/Comedy? A Look at the HFPA's Tough Golden Globes Choices

Some award consultants say if they don't make stars available to do HFPA press conferences, it is impossible to get nominated.

No, absolutely not. Our nominations are based purely on merit. Our members take voting extremely seriously. You can see that in the nomination of Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), which could have fallen through the cracks. That was a small performance members still picked up on.

Is there less enthusiasm for African-American movies because of limited global appeal? Why no nominations for Lee Daniels' The Butler, Fruitvale Station and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom?

I would respond we have two incredible actors in Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave). I don't think we've ever had as broad a list of nominees. Yes, where is The Butler? Sadly, there are only five spots.

Critics also say the number of HFPA members -- 85 -- is too small considering the importance of the Globes.

Sadly, the pool of journalists [in L.A.] is really not that large. However, one of my priorities is to have at least two or three new members. My goal is to get above 90.