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Golden Globes backlash seen having wider impact in Hollywood

The backlash over the lack of diversity within the group which hands out the Golden Globes is seen having a wider impact in Hollywood, after NBC dropped its broadcast of the annual ceremony and actor Tom Cruise returned his awards.

The U.S. television network announced on Monday (May 10) that it would not longer air the ceremony, one of the biggest Hollywood awards shows in the run-up to the Oscars, organised by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).

“Mission Impossible” star Cruise returned the three Golden Globe statuettes he won for “Jerry Maguire”, “Magnolia” and “Born on the Fourth of July”, according to several Hollywood publications, joining a revolt led by streaming platforms and studios against the HFPA.

The organisation has been under close scrutiny following an investigation by the Los Angeles Times published in February, which showed the group of 87 journalists had no Black members.

Critics include Netflix, Amazon Studios, WarnerMedia and dozens of Hollywood’s top publicity companies, who have said they would no longer work with the HFPA unless it made far-reaching changes.

“The scandal around the Globes will cause major change at the Globes. I’m not even sure … the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in its current structure, will survive this scandal,” Scott Roxborough, European Bureau Chief at The Hollywood Reporter, told Reuters on Tuesday (May 11).

“So I think we are seeing a real change. And that is something that’s quite different. I mean, there’ve been loud voices protesting a lack of diversity and various forms of abuse in Hollywood for quite some time. But it’s only recently, only really in the last few years that we’ve seen concrete changes come as a result of these protests.”

NBC’s decision came even after the HFPA agreed to recruit more Black members and make other changes over the next 18 months. NBC had initially welcomed the plan but later said it would wait to see if the reforms worked.

HFPA members have also been accused of making sexist and racist remarks and soliciting favors from celebrities and studios.

After NBC’s announcement, the HFPA said implementing “transformational change” remained an urgent priority “regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes.”

In a statement, the HFPA reiterated its planned reforms and gave a detailed timetable. It said that by August, it would hire a new chief executive, add 20 new members, approve a new code of conduct and provide diversity and sexual harassment training among other steps.

“I think this scandal took them all by surprise, that they never really considered it. They didn’t consider themselves part of this whole discussion about diversity. And the reaction to the outrage over their lack of diversity has also been a bit awkward and problematic,” Roxborough said.

“That doesn’t mean it couldn’t change. There’s a lot of incentive for them to change. The Golden Globes is still a major entertainment awards brand, and there’s a lot of money potentially behind that brand. I think that could be a great incentive for a lot of people within the organisation to make real changes, but I’m not sure they will be able to.”

Actors Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo are among those who have joined the critics of the HFPA.

“I think this is… going to have a real snowball effect,” Roxborough said.

(Production: Mindy Burrows, Marie-Louise Gumuchian)

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