Golden Globes Lawsuit: Does It Come Down to 6 Words?

HFPA fires back at Dick Clark Productions, saying its claim to keep producing the show is based on six words in a 1993 contract

Pressing its case against Dick Clark Productions in their fight over the Golden Globes telecast, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association urged a judge not to dismiss its breach-of-contract lawsuit against its estranged partner — and said DCP's case comes down to six words.

The Press Association sued DCP in November, accusing it of secretly signing a seven-year extension of NBC's current agreement to air the telecast — even though, HFPA says, DCP has no commitment to produce the show after the one that aired last month.

DCP filed a motion last month saying the judge should dismiss the case without hearing evidence — a typical move in civil cases. But HFPA fired back Monday by urging the judge to dismiss DCP's request — and outlining its case against the company with which it has worked on the telecast since 1983.

HFPA contends that DCP's claim to the right to keep producing the show is based on "a six-word sentence fragment lifted from a short 1993 amendment" to the two sides' 1987 Golden Globe Awards Agreement.

The six words — "any extensions, renewals, substitutions or modifications" — come from the following section of the 1993 amendment (and non-lawyers may want to skip ahead):

"HFPA grants to dcp eight (8) additional, consecutive, exclusive, and irrevocable options to acquire the exclusive right to produce a live television broadcast of and to produce on tape or film the Awards for each of the years 1998 through and including 2005, and for any extensions, renewals, substitutions or modifications of the NBC Agreement, and to exploit such productions in all media throughout the world in perpetuity."

HFPA calls the wording of the phrase "poorly drafted by DCP and internally inconsistent." It mentions past negotiations with Dick Clark by saying he "was then actually involved with the company that now only bears his name."

DCP is now owned by the private-equity fund Red Zone Capital Partners II, L.P.

In a statement last month, DCP said it was well within its right to keep producing the show.

"When DCP first got involved with the Golden Globes, the program had no television deal whatsoever," a company spokesman said. "Working with the HFPA, DCP nurtured and re-established the brand, and ultimately found a new home on NBC. The Golden Globes now has a strong following and has been successfully re-positioned as one of the leading award shows in the entertainment industry."