Hollywood Foreign Press Association Interim CEO Todd Boehly on Thursday confirmed his intention to institute radical changes to the embattled group behind the Golden Globe Awards that TheWrap previously reported: adding 200 new non-member voters and turning the nonprofit into a private, for-profit company that he himself would run.
The purpose of these proposals would be to end near-endless criticism of the scandal-ridden HFPA, accused of corruption, self-dealing and lack of diversity, and to share the profits of the organization with the freelance journalists who are its members.
However, such a move might itself raise more questions about self-dealing and lack of transparency, as it would be highly unusual for a for-profit organization to dispense a respected award in Hollywood.
As TheWrap first reported last November, the hedge-fund billionaire seeks to end the HFPA’s longtime nonprofit 501(c)6 status and sell its assets to a new company that his own Eldridge Industries would create and run, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by TheWrap. Boehly presented it to the HFPA members on Thursday after an initial meeting on April 4.
When asked about a plan to take the HFPA private last year, a spokesman for the HFPA denied there were such discussions, telling a reporter who asked if there was “a live proposal for Todd Boehly to merge the HFPA with his commercial interests” that this was “false reporting.”
“I don’t know who you’re sources are (sic) but this is false reporting,” James Lee told TheWrap.
But just such a plan is being proposed by Boehly. An unnamed independent group would assess the value of the HFPA’s assets ahead of the sale, and the proceeds would “ultimately” go the organization’s charitable arm (which would maintain its nonprofit status).
To sweeten the deal, an HFPA insider confirmed that Boehly has proposed that the 102 current members of the HFPA would be able to share in the profits from the new venture — most of which derive from the $60 million licensing deal with NBC for the annual Globes telecast (which was canceled this year due to the outcry over the HFPA’s lack of diversity and long history of self-dealing). That licensing fee is also split with MRC, a production company that Boehly also owns and runs as chairman.
TheWrap has also previously reported that many consider Boehly’s status at the HFPA to be in direct conflict of interest with his ownership of MRC, which relies on the Golden Globes for a huge chunk of revenue.
An HFPA representative declined to provide TheWrap with a complete copy of the report or the details contained within, saying it was an internal document.
Boehly’s proposal, presented to members on Thursday, also echoed TheWrap’s exclusive report on Monday that the HFPA is seeking to add 200 new Golden Globe voters, increasing the voting body from 102 to 300 — but without expanding the actual membership.
While a larger voter body may increase opportunities to diversify the membership, the move raises questions as to whether the core membership is being kept small to allow a smaller number of members to divvy up controversial payments to serve on committees within the organization — as well as potential profits should the organization become a private, for-profit company.
Indeed, Boehly’s proposal would guarantee employment and benefits for current members for at least three years, and suggested that they may go beyond that term. The new HFPA would have a dedicated management team, including a CEO, a Head of Human Resources, a Chief Diversity Officer, and Chief Technology Officer, and training resources.
In another attempt win over Hollywood studios and network who have maintained a boycott of the organization for over a year, Boehly also proposed that press conferences with HFPA members would no longer be required for a movie or TV show to win an award. The group has been blasted for policies that force Hollywood to provide them with exclusive conferences and events to ensure fair consideration for their clients.
An independent committe of the HFPA board is currently reviewing Boehly’s proposal, which will then go to the board and then to the full membership, the insider said. California’s attorney general will also have to approve any change to the group’s nonprofit status.
Sharon Waxman contributed to this report.