The Hollywood Foreign Press Association introduced its new officers and gave out $1.6 million in grants on Tuesday at a ceremony long on congratulations (self and otherwise) but short on any recognition of the rocky recent history the new HFPA president is working to overcome.
Incoming HFPA president Theo Kingma (left) has promised a new era of transparency and journalistic responsibility after the stormy tenures of his predecessors, Aida Takla-O’Reilly and Philip Berk. Their terms were marked by legal disputes with a former publicist who alleged kickbacks and conflicts of interest, and with Dick Clark Productions over TV rights to the Golden Globes ceremonies.
“While the Golden Globe Awards are of course known as the ultimate party of the year, our daily focus at the HFPA is on the journalistic quality of our work,” said Kingma in his introductory remarks. “And this year I promise you we’re going to take that more seriously than ever.”
For the most part, the HFPA’s new leadership turned the stage of the Beverly Hilton over to stars like Eva Longoria, who hosted, and who tweaked her hosts midway through the show after stumbling over her lines a number of times.
"There's a lot of typos in this TelePrompTer," she said. "The foreign press wrote this."
In a move that could be considered typical of the star-happy HFPA, the grants were accepted not by executives from the organizations that actually receive the money, but by movie and TV personalities on their behalf.
Colin Farrell, for instance, accepted for UCLA, while David O. Russell and Vince Vaughn accepted checks destined for the Los Angeles Conservancy, the Pacific Film Archive and the UC Berkeley Film Archive.
At least Russell also accepted on behalf of the Ghetto Film School, an inner-city New York school he has supported for years.
And Vin Diesel, accepting for the Sundance Institute, surprised more than a few people by pointing out that he got his start in the movie business as the director and star of "Strays," a 1997 indie that played at Sundance.
Others in attendance included Liam Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde, Diane Kruger, Jonah Hill and Jason Bateman.
The $1.6 million in grants given out at the luncheon was a record for the HFPA, which over the years has given more than $18 million for film restoration, scholarships and film-related causes.
Recipients on Tuesday included the American Film Institute, the American Cinematheque, the International Documentary Association, the Sundance Institute, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Young Storytellers Foundation, the Echo Park Film Center, Actors and Others for Animals, the Los Angeles Conservancy and a number of schools, including UCLA, UC Berkeley, Loyola Marymount, the University of North Carolina, NYU, Columbia, CalArts and Los Angeles City College.