Golden Globes voters approve sweeping reforms after racism row
LOS ANGELES: The scandal-hit organization behind film and television's Golden Globe Awards on Thursday voted for sweeping reforms after being slammed by Hollywood for its record on diversity.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association -- a group of 90-odd international journalists who wield outsized influence due to the prestigious Globes -- has been reeling since a report in February revealed it has zero Black members.
A group of more than 100 Tinseltown publicists wrote to the HFPA in March demanding an end to "discriminatory behavior, unprofessionalism, ethical impropriety and alleged financial corruption," joining criticism from the Time's Up group.
On Thursday, the HFPA overwhelmingly approved a package of reforms including boosting membership by 50 percent in the next 18 months -- including more Black journalists -- hiring diversity consultants, and ending notoriously strict and opaque limits on who gets admitted.
"Today's overwhelming vote to reform the Association reaffirms our commitment to change," said HFPA president Ali Sar in a statement.
"Because we understand the urgency and issue of transparency, we will be continuously updating the members as we move forward in making our organization more inclusive and diverse," he wrote.
"Again, we understand that the hard work starts now. We remain dedicated to becoming a better organization and an example of diversity, transparency and accountability in the industry."
One HFPA member, who asked not to be named, told AFP that "very small numbers said no or abstained -- the majority said yes" to the changes.
"I am so relieved -- we need to change, we need to improve ourselves in order to survive," the member told AFP.
The Golden Globes are second in importance only to the Oscars in Hollywood's film award season, but their future status has been called into question by threats of a boycott over some of the HFPA's controversies.
Former president Philip Berk was expelled last month for forwarding an email dubbing Black Lives Matter a "hate movement," and two consultants hired to address the HFPA's diversity issues quit over a lack of progress.
While most HFPA members work regularly for well-known media outlets, the exclusion of countless bona fide journalists has drawn scrutiny.
And more broadly, the organization's track record of overlooking Black- and minority-led films and television series at the Globes is frequently criticised.
But studios remain keen to ensure that HFPA voters have seen their movies and shows -- sometimes under rather luxurious conditions, according to some involved who have spoken on the issue on condition of anonymity.
And there was positive news for the HFPA in March when an antitrust lawsuit by a Norwegian entertainment journalist -- accusing it of sabotaging non-members while gorging on lavish perks and unparalleled access to Hollywood stars -- was thrown out by a California judge.