The Hollywood Foreign Press Association scored a partial victory Monday in its legal fight over the Golden Globes broadcast, as a district court judge granted the HFPA's motion to appeal an earlier ruling in adversary Dick Clark Productions' favor and ordered Phase II of the trial to be stayed, pending the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in Phase I.
In his decision to grant the HFPA's motion to appeal, Judge A. Howard Matz told the organization's lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, that his initial ruling must have felt like a "sting," adding, "I fully understand why you're anxious to appeal this to a higher level."
The HFPA is partially appealing Phase I of the trial, specifically, the main show contract. Phase II of the contract primarily involves minor issues, such as pre-show and digital rights. Matz ordered Phase II to be stayed because it would be affected by the appeals court's decision on Phase I.
In its motion, the HFPA argued that an appeal of the Phase I ruling is an inevitable part of the legal process, and that "[t]rial on the Phase II claims remains a distant prospect." A speedy resolution is necessary, the HFPA said, so that plans for the next broadcast of the Golden Globes in early 2013 can proceed in a timely manner.
"Resolving the Phase I claims through appeal now achieves two crucial objections," the HFPA said in its motion. "First, a final determination will allow the parties to make business arrangements necessary to ensure timely and efficient production of the Awards Show. Second, if HFPA prevails in a Phase I appeal, it will significantly streamline Phase II and could obviate the proceedings entirely by creating favorable settlement conditions."
The HFPA filed suit against Dick Clark Productions and its parent company, Red Zone Capital Partners II, in 2010. The organization claimed that DCP had negotiated a new contract to air the Golden Globes with NBC without the HFPA's consent, and that the negotiations potentially cost HFPA millions of dollars, because the rights were not put out for bid to other networks.
Dick Clark Productions countered that an amendment in its contract allows it to retain the rights to the Golden Globes broadcast each time it reaches a new deal with NBC. DCP also asserted that it didn't require the HFPA"s blessing to extend its agreement with NBC.
Matz sided in favor of Dick Clark Productions in April.
The HFPA's attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, told TheWrap that, although the HFPA disagreed with Matz's initial ruling, he felt that the judge has been "very thoughtful" in his deliberations.
"Though we disagree with his ruling on the first part of the trial, he gave that issue and this issue very thoughtful consideration," Petrocelli said. "We'll take it from here."
Red Zone did not oppose the HFPA's motion to appeal.