Pacific Coast Entertainment, a firm co-owned by former Film Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, has sent a letter to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association criticizing the group’s vetting process for a potential acquisition of the Golden Globes.
In the letter sent from Isaacs’ partner Yusef Jackson to HFPA president Helen Hoehne and exclusively obtained by TheWrap, the scandal-ridden organization was accused of creating a special committee to vet Pacific Coast Entertainment consisting of three advisers who have a “long-standing financial relationship” with current HFPA CEO Todd Boehly, who is making his own bid to acquire HFPA through his hedge fund, Eldridge Industries.
“Ms. Hoehne, the process feels curated to fix an outcome. To demonstrate that this Special Committee is truly independent, all members – including Mr, Boehly and the leadership team — should sign a simple pledge…asserting that they do not have any financial or pecuniary interest with any party involved in this transaction, and will not for at least two-years following any transaction,” Jackson wrote.
“Further, the full membership should select the individuals who are to serve on the Special Committee and the board should select new advisors. This step would offer a modicum of faith in the process,” he continued.
Isaacs’ bid would give PCE control of the Golden Globes and its annual awards telecast while maintaining the HFPA’s status as a nonprofit organization, whereas Boehly’s bid would see the HFPA lose that status.
Other elements of the PCE bid include annual salaries of $120,000 for HFPA members and an offer to split the $60 million licensing fee that NBC pays to broadcast the ceremony with the HFPA. PCE has also suggested changing the production company that oversees the Golden Globes telecast rather than sticking with MRC, which Boehly leads as chairman.
This is not the first time that Jackson — an investor and son of civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson — has criticized Boehly and his influence over the HFPA in letters to the organization. As TheWrap reported last month, Jackson sent a letter to HFPA members accusing Boehly of self-dealing and questioning his ability to reform the organization while attempting to acquire it and turn it into a for-profit entity. “From our call, it’s clear there is NO process and under the new bylaws, a small, select group, NOT the members, have all the power and control to determine the future of HFPA,” Jackson wrote at the time.
In a statement sent to TheWrap, the HFPA defended its vetting process.
“PCE has been invited to participate in the process of submitting a formal proposal—a process that all of the other bidders are currently following. That process is fair, transparent for the members and allows equal access for all parties,” the statement read. “We encourage all parties to follow that process to ensure a thorough and unbiased review.”
Dear Ms. Hoehne:
After reading your published statement describing the new process for submitting proposals, I would like to make clear our perspective and propose a path to fairness. From the very beginning, we asked for an opportunity to present our partnership plan directly to the members. We know that last July, Mr. Boehly used his position to present his initial plan to the entire membership. More recently, while acting as Interim CEO in April 2022, he presented a revised plan. For more than a year, he has had access to members and confidential materials, made presentations, and was not required to go through any Special Committee.
When Cheryl and I asked for an opportunity to propose a credible partnership between Pacific Coast Entertainment, LLC (“PCE”) and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (“HFPA” or “Association”), you discouraged members from learning more about us. Now, you have empowered a Special Committee composed of financial advisors and lawyers (“Advisors”) and three “independent” directors to vet us.
By definition, this is not equitable access. Equally important and disheartening, the Advisors you selected have a long-standing financial relationship with Mr. Boehly’s Eldridge Industries and Guggenheim Partners, which undermines our confidence in the Advisors. It is not forthright to present firms from Mr. Boehly’s deal team as impartial Advisors in this process.
As fiduciaries, the HFPA Board of Directors should remove these conflicted Advisors and select new advisors from disinterested firms. The directors on the Special Committee are neither elected by the members nor members of the Association. In fact, they were only recently appointed to the board of directors in September 2021. Purportedly, the HFPA Board of Directors appointed these same three directors – the newest among them – to serve on the Special Committee, and those individuals are to consider existential questions about the 80-year-old Association and its future.
Ms. Hoehne, the process feels curated to fix an outcome. To demonstrate that this Special Committee is truly independent, all members – including Mr, Boehly and the leadership team – should sign a simple pledge (“The Pledge”) asserting that they do not have any financial or pecuniary interest with any party involved in this transaction, and will not for at least two-years following any transaction. Further, the full membership should select the individuals who are to serve on the Special Committee and the board should select new advisors. This step would offer a modicum of faith in the process.
If transformation is truly a priority for the HFPA, then signing The Pledge is a way to restore integrity and credibility in the Association and its processes at the outset of this next chapter. The path is narrow and time is short. Pacific Coast Entertainment, LLC, is a company registered in Delaware, formed by Cheryl Boone Isaacs and me, and advised by a number of notable industry professionals. We have submitted a preliminary Term Sheet to Houlihan Lokey, as you requested, and we want to partner with you.
As principals of PCE, Cheryl and I will endorse a non-disclosure agreement that does not prohibit us from communicating non-confidential information to members. This precedent of presenting to the full membership and board concurrently, and also communicating to members has been established by Mr. Boehly over the last year, and it would be unfair to position us now to choose between communicating with members and accessing the data room.
Please respond at your earliest convenience.
Yusef D. Jackson