So why did the group of 87 entertainment reporters suddenly decide to make Powers a nominee at the last second? The organization has not responded to media requests, but the most obvious guess is they’re trying to do damage control after renewed scrutiny of the organization, sparked by an L.A. Times story last week that revealed the group didn’t have a single Black member and hadn’t had one for years.
The story was part of a broader exposé by the LAT that found “ethical lapses” among members of the “non-profit organization,” including large payoffs to board officers and directors and the acceptance of luxurious perks from studios, such as $1,400-a-night hotel stays. One anonymous member told the paper, “We admit people that are not real journalists because they are not a threat to anyone.”
None of these accusations against the organization are new; the LAT stories simply confirmed (yet again) the organization’s corruptness with facts and figures. For those who aren’t familiar with the shady HFPA, the group has been plagued with scandal since as far back as the 1960s when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigated the group and concluded that the organization “substantially misled the public as to the basis on which winners were chosen and the procedures followed in choosing them.” The FCC’s verdict resulted in NBC dropping its telecast of the show, but the awards returned to tv after a half-decade hiatus. But its new network CBS dropped the show again in the early 1980s after a new scandal in which the husband of Pia Zadora had flown HFPA members to his hotel in Las Vegas, which resulted in Zadora winning the Golden Globe for best new star of the year. The same performance was derided by most other critics, even earning Razzies for worst new star and worst actress.
But back to Powers’s last-second nomination. After last week’s story about its lack of Black members, the HFPA issued the following statement:
We understand that we need to bring in Black members, as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible.
Being able to tout Kemp as one of their Black winners, even if he didn’t qualify under the Globes’ own rules for the animation category, was likely to have been seen as a net positive for the group. But in our eyes, it further delegitimizes the group and raises questions anew about how its winners are chosen.
As professional film critics and journalists have been pointing out over the last few days, adding Black members to the organization won’t make the Golden Globes any less problematic; the best solution is for Hollywood to rid itself of this antiquated and unscrupulous group of hanger-ons:
Photo at top: Deborah Coleman, Disney/Pixar.