Are the Golden Globes developing scruples?

globeThe funniest entertainment news item of the past week appeared in The Hollywood Reporter on Dec. 31.

Scott Feinberg wrote about a warning letter that was sent to movie publicists by the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — Theo Kingma — charging the studios with “misleading” the public in ads that say movies are “winners” of Golden Globe nominations.

Kingma cited Fox Searchlight’s “12 Years a Slave” and The Weinstein Company’s “August: Osage County,” “Philomena” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” as movies with ads that used the word “winner” in conjunction with Golden Globe nominations.

Apparently, this PR push is part of a campaign by the press group “to reform itself,” in Feinberg’s words, “following a slew of negative publicity.”

That “slew” of bad press isn’t a recent development.69th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

30 years ago, the Golden Globes were so obviously corrupt that the awards broadcast was dropped by NBC and migrated to cable. It’s a sign of the times — and the hunger for celebrity TV specials — that the Golden Globes returned to network television a decade ago and consistently draw huge audiences.

Industry observers with long memories still recall Pia Zadora winning the “newcomer of the year” prize — over Kathleen Turner and Howard Rollins — after the singer-actress’ mega-rich husband wined and dined the foreign press.

Believe it or not, a few years ago Angelina Jolie received a best actress nomination for “The Tourist.” 

If using the term “winner” is a deceptive promotional practice, so is calling the prize-dispensing group the “Hollywood Foreign Press Association” as it does not include on its roster many of the entertainment writers for the major international news services.

The HFPA really has only one function, which is to make a bundle for the broadcast TV rights to their awards night, and to force otherwise sensible stars to show up for a highly dubious media event.

The studios hold their noses regarding the legitimacy of the organization so that the nominations and “wins” can be used as part of the PR campaign for the Academy Awards.

Perhaps, the situation is changing.

Feinberg reported that this “ragtag group of journalists whose support could be curried with favors and photographs” chose a new, younger president in Kingma and “it announced the first set of Golden Globe nominations in years that were not widely disparaged as blatantly kowtowing to A-list stars.”

Joe Meyers