Dick Clark to HFPA: ‘Our Contract Is in Force’

Exclusive: On eve of Golden Globes, the CEO of Dick Clark Productions says its contract with HFPA has automatically renewed — HFPA says no it hasn't

Contentiousness continues between the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Dick Clark Productions on the eve of the Golden Globe Awards.

While a lawsuit hangs over the relationship, the CEO for Dick Clark Productions told TheWrap that a contract with the HFPA is in force – despite the association’s contention that it expires after the NBC show on Sunday night.

“The agreement between DCP and HFPA for the Golden Globes remains in effect and will be for many years to come,” said Clark CEO Mark Shapiro.  

Also read: Golden Globes Tension as Dick Clark and HFPA Feud Over Contract.

As written, the contract expires in 2012, which technically kicks in after the 2011 telecast. But because DCP in the fall signed a new seven-year contract with NBC to air the Globes, its lawyers contend that the producer’s contract is automatically renewed with HFPA.

HFPA flatly disputed that interpretation, saying DCP had “options” allowing it to negotiate with NBC that run out this weekend.

“The last year of the last option that DCP has is for the show going forward on Jan. 16,” Linda Smith, a lawyer for the HFPA, told TheWrap. “They are out of options after that, therefore they have no right to produce the broadcast. They’re sellling something they don’t own.”

Shapiro retorted: “That’s just plain wrong. That may be the way their counsel wants our contract to read, but it doesn’t.  

The new NBC deal is the subject of a lawsuit between the HFPA and Dick Clark Productions, with the HFPA accusing DCP – with whom they’ve been in business since 1983 – of having “surreptitiously signed a television broadcast license agreement with NBC for the Golden Globe Awards shows through 2018 without HFPA’s consent or authorization.”

Shapiro defended the contract renewal with NBC, saying his contract with HFPA permits his company to do so, and to produce the show “in perpetuity.”

The HFPA has rejected that as unenforceable and in the lawsuit says it “strains credulity.”

“It’s not like we just fell on this clause,” said Shapiro. “Our contract is clear. We don’t need their approval to renew with NBC. We are inside the four corners of the contract.”

With all this happening leading up to the show, Shapiro said DCP was still in continual contact with HFPA members, particularly those leading the group, Philip Berk and Judy Solomon. “We’re always talking with the HFPA,” Shapiro said.

DCP executives believe that the HFPA ought to be grateful for the new deal, which gives the two companies an average of $21.5 million per show. The revenues are shared 50-50, after overhead costs are removed.

HFPA fundamentally believes that DCP charges too much to produce the show, and that after being in business for so long they should not have to evenly split the proceeds.

But Shapiro is sticking to a contract that added the “perpetuity” clause in 1997.

Red Zone Capital, whose primary owner is Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder,  bought DCP in 2007. The namesake TV producer is no longer part of the company he founded.

DCP helped build the Globes into one of the most lucrative awards shows on television, and propelled it from cable network TBS to NBC in 1993.

Shapiro said he was hopeful the ratings of this year’s Golden Globe telecast would be up, as they were last year.

The 2011 Globes had 14 percent more viewers than the previous year, drawing 16.9 million viewers, which beat an audience of 14.9 million viewers in 2009.

The show will be hosted by Ricky Gervais.