Golden Globes Falls Short of 300 Voter Goal by 101, Expels Reformist Member Frank Rousseau for Falsifying Stories (Exclusive)

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association had aimed for a voting pool of 300 for this year’s awards

Golden Globes 2023 HFPA
TheWrap Illustration

Sharon Waxman

Sharon Waxman On the Business of Entertainment

The founder and editor of TheWrap’s take on life on the left coast, high culture, low culture and the business of entertainment and media. Waxman writes frequently on the inside doings of Hollywood, and is is also the author of two books, Rebels on the Back Lot and Loot

The Golden Globes will have only 199 voters for this year’s awards, 101 short of the target that had been set to expand the voting pool since the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was bought by Todd Boehly this year and committed to significant reforms.

The Globes has 96 voting members, fully 18 of whom hold emeritus status as retirees, according to the group’s spokesman. The now for-profit organization also lists 103 international voters from a variety of countries — nonmembers of the HFPA who are allowed to cast ballots in an attempt to make the voting body larger and more diverse. While this roster was announced in September, no additional names have been added for this year’s awards to meet the total that Boehly had sought.

Meanwhile, TheWrap has learned that a veteran member of the group and advocate for reform, Frank Rousseau, was expelled on November 22 after a brief investigation into accusations that he misused interviews with actors including George Clooney and Ana de Armas.

Rousseau, an HFPA member for 26 years who wrote for numerous French-language publications including TeleZ and CineRevue, was notified in October that he had breached association rules by using interviews from previous press conferences with Hollywood actors for articles about more recent films, without properly identifying the source of the quotes.

TheWrap was shown an expulsion letter sent to Rousseau on November 22 after he failed to appear before the board. In a letter Rousseau sent that day to the full membership, he said he did not attend the meeting because he feared he was being railroaded. “I was given the opportunity to defend myself against these allegations in front of the board,” he wrote. “This ‘opportunity’ seemed like nothing but a well-planned ambush and yet another excuse for the board to humiliate and intimidate me further. I admit [I] was terrified of the powerful lawyers hired by the HFPA, that have been instructed to ‘crush’ anyone not agreeing with the leadership.”

In a statement to TheWrap, a rep for the HFPA said Rousseau was expelled “after a careful and thorough investigation.”

“There is no room in the HFPA for anyone engaged in a pervasive abuse of professional standards of journalistic conduct,” the statement read. “This episode is further proof that our reformed confidential reporting and investigative process works. It is obviously disappointing that instead of accepting responsibility for his admitted breaches, Mr. Rousseau has chosen to spread false and malicious claims against his former colleagues on his way out — just as he threatened to do to try to bully the HFPA into letting his misconduct go.”

Rousseau, a known advocate for reform who spoke out during a 2020 membership meeting after the death of George Floyd about the need to diversify the association, stated in his letter to members: “It’s obvious the leadership is conspiring using false rumors and baseless allegations to get rid of a member that has done nothing but try to modernize and move this organization forward.”

He declined to comment for this story.

The group did not admit any Black members until after a Los Angeles Times exposé publicized the lack of diversity in early 2021. A firestorm followed that article, resulting in the cancellation of NBC’s Golden Globes broadcast in 2022, and a public effort by the group to reform self-dealing practices and a lack of inclusion.

A spokesman for the group said the HFPA hired an independent law firm to investigate the allegations into Rousseau’s work. When the group was a nonprofit prior to its sale to Boehly’s Eldridge Industries this past summer, disciplinary proceedings took many months, not mere weeks.

Another HFPA member, Sam Asi, was expelled this year after a Wrap investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct was followed by an HFPA internal inquiry. The expulsions diminish the groups’ ranks just as it has promised to expand. Nomination voting for this year’s Golden Globes is now underway, with ballots due back on Dec. 7.

With just 200 voting members, the HFPA has fallen significantly short of its target to expand the voting pool to 300. That goal was confirmed in an internal document presented by CEO Todd Boehly to members on April 14 and obtained by TheWrap. At the time, TheWrap exclusively reported that the HFPA sought to add 200 additional voters in an attempt to get back in the good graces of Hollywood studios and publicists. Netflix, a key industry participant, was a leading voice demanding 300 voters as a minimum benchmark for legitimacy, TheWrap reported at the time.

The HFPA acknowledged the shortfall in a statement to TheWrap on Monday, but did not give a reason for it: “The earlier number of expanding to 300 voters was stated as a goal and planned for after the new venture was launched between the HFPA and Eldridge Industries. When the HFPA announced its last membership addition of 21 new voters in October 2021, a goal was set to double the voters from that previous 87 members (174 voters), but we achieved a total of 200 total voters instead.”

The HFPA’s expansion plan was initially discussed at a general members meeting on April 4, in which Boehly said the group would draw new voters from among international journalists recommended by film-festival directors. However, after it became clear that Boehly would take the association private and abandon nonprofit status, some international film groups like the worldwide film-critics organization Fipresci backed away from encouraging their members to sign up as nonmember Golden Globes voters.

In September, the HFPA announced the addition of the 103 new international voters, none of whom would become official members. The remaining active members are eligible to receive $75,000 per year salaries from Boehly’s Eldridge Industries, the parent company that now owns the HFPA. International voters are only eligible to vote.

Nominations will be announced on Dec. 12 and the Golden Globes will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 10.