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Court Rules HFPA Lawsuit Against Dick Clark Productions Can Proceed

The group behind the Golden Globe Awards is fighting the producers of the annual TV broadcast over a deal it made with NBC

A U.S. District Court judge ruled on Monday that the Hollywood Foreign Press' lawsuit against Dick Clark Productions can proceed.

The  group behind the Golden Globe Awards sued Dick Clark Productions last November, claiming that the longtime producer of its annual television broadcast negotiated a new contract with NBC without consulting the HFPA leadership first. 

Dick Clark Productions had submitted a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which was denied.

"We are thrilled that the federal judge ruled in our favor that our lawsuit, claiming that DCP has no right to the Golden Globe Awards beyond 2011, has merit. We will continue the fight to reclaim all of our rights," HFPA president Philip Berk said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Dick Clark Productions declined to address Monday's decision, stating "The Court has taken the matter under submission and has not issued its final ruling. We will await that before offering any comment."

Under the deal Dick Clark Productions inked with NBC, the two companies would receive an average of $21.5 million for every awards show.

The revenue would be split evenly after overhead costs are removed. But HFPA officials believe that that Dick Clark Productions, which it has been in business with since 1983, are being over-compensated for the role they play in the highly rated broadcast. 

As written, the contract between the HFPA and Dick Clark Productions expires in 2012, which technically kicks in after the 2011 telecast.

But because the production company 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.

"We are delighted that the judge agreed with us and refused to accept the argument by Dick Clark Productions and Red Zone that they have any clear claim to control the broadcast rights to any future Golden Globe Awards show. Now that their attempt to evade responsibility for their bad-faith conduct has been rejected, we look forward to presenting our evidence at trial," the  HFPA's lead litigator Linda J. Smith of O'Melveny & Myers, said in a statement.

The fight between Dick Clark Productions and the HFPA erupted at the same time that the press association was fighting separate lawsuits surrounding the ouster of its longterm publicist Michael Russell. Russell charged the group with fraud and alleged its members accepted gifts in exchange for Globe nominations.

The HFPA has countersued Russell, saying he manufactured his claims. 

Despite the drama, ratings for the Golden Globes were down slightly from last year. Though the broadcast still won its time slot with an 11.8 rating and 18 share.

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