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Time’s Up Slams Proposed HFPA Reform: ‘Sorely Lacking and Hardly Transformational’

On Thursday, Golden Globes voters approved a list of reforms to remake the org

Time’s Up has slammed the proposed reforms set forth by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to remake the embattled organization, calling the ideas “sorely lacking and hardly transformational.”

“Sadly, the list of ‘reforms’ adopted yesterday, and endorsed by NBCUniversal and Dick Clark Productions, are sorely lacking and hardly transformational,” Time’s Up CEO Tina Tchen said in a statement. “Instead, these measures ensure that the current membership of the HFPA will remain in the majority and that the next Golden Globes will be decided with the same fundamental problems that have existed for years.”  

She added: “The window-dressing platitudes adopted yesterday are neither transformation that was promised nor what our creative community deserves. Any organization or sponsors that set themselves up to pass judgment on our vibrant community of creators and talent must do better.” 

Tchen said the recommendations contain no specifics, and “no real timeline to implement these changes.” She also blasted the organization’s “complete silence” about reforms “to the deeply-troubled nominations and awards process.”

“This includes the absence of any commitment to ensure that the Golden Globes awards and categories are free from discriminatory criteria, that the practice of unprofessional, exclusive press conferences will end, or that voting members will perform the basic function of watching the nominated projects,” she said.

Time’s Up also sent a letter to the HFPA, saying, “We wish the HFPA had responded with a plan for change that reflected the industry-wide discontent with its practices, THIS YEAR. Instead, the HFPA is simply trying to push forward with ‘business as usual’ — urging industry members to submit their projects for consideration in order to avoid missing imminent deadlines for the next awards season, all while its proposed plan purposely keeps the deeply problematic governance in control.”

Time’s Up also referred back to its own list of recommendations to the HFPA sent in March, calling on the group to replace its existing board and demanding that every member of the Golden Globes group resign. The list of demands was effectively a full-scale dismantling of the HFPA and the Globes as it stands today. 

“Sadly, not only did the HFPA ignore those recommendations (the HFPA leadership themselves never took our offer to meet with them), but the HFPA also purposely skirted around all of our specific calls to action,” the letter read.

On Thursday, the HFPA overwhelming approved a set of sweeping reforms. In the voice vote held over Zoom, 74 of the 87 members voted to approve a proposal that would increase its membership by 50% in the next 18 months, appoint professional executive leadership and hold new board elections this fall. Three members voted no, four voted to abstain and eight were absent, according to a knowledgeable individual.

Earlier this week, the group pledged to increase membership by 50%, hold new board elections and hire professional executive leadership. The board asked for members to approve the new reforms; otherwise it would “take more serious measures, including but not limited to the Board resigning, if the membership does not timely approve and implement the below reforms.”

The HFPA has been under fire in recent months over its lack of any Black members — as well as its track record of snubbing movies and TV shows with Black creators — and deep corruption that drew backlash from the Hollywood community, prompting Time’s Up to demand an overhaul of the organization. In response to the backlash, the group hired a diversity consultant, USC professor Shaun Harper, to address “systemic” issues. But following a meeting with Time’s Up, Harper quit after he was confronted with the details of the HFPA’s problems. In addition, former HFPA president Philip Berk was expelled last month after sending an email to members with a post describing Black Lives Matter as a “hate movement.” The HFPA said it would announce a set of reforms by May 6. See the full list of reforms here.

In response to Time’s Up’s statement, NBC, one of the HFPA’s broadcast partners, said in a statement: “We believe that the plan presented charts a course for meaningful reform at the HFPA.  We remain committed to encouraging the plan’s prompt implementation through productive conversations so that the HFPA can emerge a better and more inclusive organization.”

Read Tchen’s full statement and the letter to the HFPA below.

Tina Tchen, president and CEO of TIME’S UP Foundation, provided the following statement:

“May 6 was the day the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) said the Golden Globes would detail its commitment to transformational change and would finally uproot the systemic and longstanding racism, misogyny, and corruption widely reported as endemic to the HFPA and the Golden Globe Awards. 

“Sadly, the list of ‘reforms’ adopted yesterday, and endorsed by NBCUniversal and Dick Clark Productions, are sorely lacking and hardly transformational. Instead, these measures ensure that the current membership of the HFPA will remain in the majority and that the next Golden Globes will be decided with the same fundamental problems that have existed for years.  

“The HFPA’s list of recommendations largely contains no specifics, no commitments to real accountability or change, and no real timeline to implement these changes. The HFPA’s proposed September 1 deadline for some — but not all — reforms come well after the next award cycle will have started. And even its proposal to increase membership by 50% comes with no commitments that the decisions to admit new members will be made in an equitable and inclusive manner with full transparency and oversight.  

“Even more striking is the complete silence from the HFPA about reforms to the deeply-troubled nominations and awards process. This includes the absence of any commitment to ensure that the Golden Globes awards and categories are free from discriminatory criteria, that the practice of unprofessional, exclusive press conferences will end, or that voting members will perform the basic function of watching the nominated projects.

“The window-dressing platitudes adopted yesterday are neither transformation that was promised nor what our creative community deserves. Any organization or sponsors that set themselves up to pass judgment on our vibrant community of creators and talent must do better.” 

TIME’S UP’s Open Letter to the HFPA

On May 6, 2021, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) adopted a list of reforms that were supposed to demonstrate its commitment to transformational change that would finally uproot the systemic and longstanding racism, misogyny, and corruption widely reported as endemic to the HFPA and the Golden Globe Awards. 

But after months of introspective examination, multiple consultants, and industry leaders offering their expertise to help the HFPA transform, these window-dressing platitudes are sorely lacking and hardly transformational. Instead, these proposed measures ensure that the current membership of the HFPA will remain in the majority for years to come, and that the next Golden Globes, which will have started by then, will be riddled with the same fundamental problems that have existed for years.   

The HFPA’s list of recommendations largely contains no specifics, no commitments to real accountability or change, and no real timeline to implement these changes. What few items have a proposed September 1 deadline come too late to represent real change for this coming awards season.  

We wish the HFPA had responded with a plan for change that reflected the industry-wide discontent with its practices, THIS YEAR. Instead, the HFPA is simply trying to push forward with “business as usual” — urging industry members to submit their projects for consideration in order to avoid missing imminent deadlines for the next awards season, all while its proposed plan purposely keeps the deeply problematic governance in control. 

Months ago, TIME’S UP sent a list of precise recommendations to the HFPA that included guidance on membership and governance, ethics and safety protections, and nominations and awards. Sadly, not only did the HFPA ignore those recommendations (the HFPA leadership themselves never took our offer to meet with them), but the HFPA also purposely skirted around all of our specific calls to action, as laid out below. 

An immediate change in the current management and board. 

  • HFPA’s plan involves a two-year process, the start of which takes us too far past this year’s awards milestones, and ensures that existing members will remain in the majority for the 2022 awards season.
  • There is no bar to existing leadership standing for reelection. In fact, there has been no demonstration that anyone in the existing leadership or staff has taken responsibility for the problems within the HFPA.

An immediate reform and expansion of membership in numbers sufficient to eliminate insularity, ensure journalistic credibility, and create real change. 

  • The HFPA’s timeline of increasing new membership by 50% over the next 18 months –only 43 new members in addition to the existing 86 — ensures that its current membership will continue to hold majority rule for the foreseeable future, ultimately silencing any new members who would join.  
  • The supposed reforms to their membership criteria and undefined roles for third parties on the board or in the membership process provide no assurance that decisions to admit new members will be made in an equitable and inclusive manner with full transparency and oversight.

Complete transparency and external accountability around processes for establishing and welcoming new members, board members, and management. 

  • The vague promises of unnamed outside consultants and oversight are insufficient.
  • There is no definition of what authority those third parties would have over the HFPA decisions and operations, or even their scope of work. Simply promising to hire another DEI consultant, after losing its original one, without these details these details is empty.  
  • In contrast, our recommendations provided key steps on the oversight of decisions around new members, election of new leadership, and nominations by outside experts immediately while the HFPA works to truly transform itself.

New and published ethics policies, as well as anti-harassment, anti-bullying, and anti-discrimination policies that will provide protections to employees, members, partners, contractors, and participants in all HFPA events.

  • The undefined promise to revise the HFPA code of conduct provides no information on what values will be at the core of those revisions or who would be covered by the code. The suggestion of establishing a hotline for individuals to report past, present, and future conduct violations is a basic requirement for any accountability policy. But to be clear, it is not the mechanism to achieve reform. The responsibility to make reform happen should be placed on those in positions of leadership, not on those who have already been harmed. 

Immediate reform of the awards process itself so that the process is transparent and enforced with fair criteria for screening and consideration

  • Noticeably absent from the HFPA list is any mention of changes to the deeply troubled nominations and awards process.  
  • Despite multiple prior controversies, the HFPA stays silent about the need to review their existing award categories and rules to eliminate any discriminatory criteria and ensure those rules are enforced with fairness and consistency. 
  • There has been no response to the recent disclosures about HFPA members not attending screenings and conferences for artists of color. And the HFPA’s list of reforms does not even include a requirement that voting members will perform the basic function of watching nominated projects.  

The HFPA — through the Golden Globe Awards, and with the support of NBCUniversal and Dick Clark Productions — has set itself up to pass judgment on the American entertainment industry. The awards process can make or break careers and has an outsize impact on our broader culture. Yet what we have seen from the HFPA falls far short of what is required to transform the organization. Our community of vibrant creatives across all racial, ethnic, and gender backgrounds deserve better.

More to come…

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