Eldridge Industries is taking over the Golden Globe Awards, which will be turned into a private entity separate from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s charitable and philanthropic programs, which will be managed as a non-profit entity.
The HFPA membership voted to approve the transfer of ownership to Eldridge, which is run by Todd Boehly, who has served as the org’s interim CEO since last year. The HFPA put itself on the auction block in May, and Boehly had been looking to buy the organization since then. This spring, the group formed a special committee within the nonprofit organization to determine potential outside strategic interest in its organization and assets.
“This is a historic moment for the HFPA and the Golden Globes,” said HFPA president Helen Hoehne. “We have taken a decisive step forward to transform ourselves and adapt to this increasingly competitive economic landscape for both award shows and the journalism marketplace. Our special committee and team of legal and financial advisors did an incredible amount of work in reviewing, analyzing, and comparing the options presented to us. We are excited to move forward with a mandate to ensure we continue our support for increasing diversity in all areas and maintaining our life-changing charitable and philanthropic efforts.”
According to the HFPA, Eldridge will create a new private company, which would acquire all rights for the Golden Globes intellectual property “and be empowered to oversee the professionalization and modernization of the Golden Globe Awards. The transition will include the development of staff and an executive team to lead the new organization.”
As part of the transition, the group will add additional Golden Globes voters “to increase the size and diversity of the available voters for the annual awards,” the group said. But it also calls into question what a for-profit entity will look like, and whether that will further cause concerns over the org’s already frequently lambasted conduct. There’s also the question of Boehly now both owning the Globes and, through Eldridge, MRC Live and Alternative — the company formerly known as Dick Clark Prods., which produces the Globes. (Boehly is also reportedly aiming to acquire MRC Live and Alternative outright, according to Puck. Such a move may further surface conflict-of-interest questions.) The HFPA said in its press release that it would have no further statements or address the news beyond what was announced today.
Also according to the HFPA, “Boehly was not part of the review, recommendation, or approval process. In recent months, the HFPA’s financial advisor, Houlihan Lokey, yielded several submitted proposals from a number of companies and investment groups. Each proposal was reviewed and analyzed by the HFPA’s Special Committee, alongside its legal advisor, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.”
The special committee was composed of the three outside independent members of the HFPA’s board: Sharlette Hambrick, Jeff Harris and Dr. Joanna Massey.
“This review process was comprehensive, deliberate and thoughtful to ensure fairness and accuracy,” Hoehne said. “Per our bylaws, the decision ultimately rested with our membership, who voted on the proposal. As we look forward to celebrating our 80th anniversary event in January 2023, we are incredibly excited about this new era for our Association.”
The HFPA’s move comes after more than a year of turmoil for the nearly 80-year-old press organization that has thrived over the past 25 years on lucrative fees from NBCUniversal and other partners for the Golden Globe Awards.
There’s still no confirmation as to whether the Globes will return to NBC in 2023, but the new ownership structure is likely a step forward in potentially making that happen. As Variety reported in June, the HFPA had met with major studios in networks in the spring and early summer to lay out the list of changes the org had made over the past year and a half. The HFPA touted the addition of 21 new members (nearly half of whom were women, and most of whom where people of color), as well as DEI training, a new chief diversity officer, new independent advisors and consultants, an NAACP partnership, new gift, travel and conflict of interest policies and other bylaws, among other reforms.
The HFPA has been in reform mode since spring 2021, when the Los Angeles Times detailed new allegations of questionable financial practices inside the small, insular organization, as well as paltry record of diversity and representation (including an entire lack of Black members). The group responded by releasing a framework for reform that included measures to increase the number of people of color in its ranks. The org had already instituted new restrictions on gifts that the members could receive and payments for work on their committees.
Nonetheless, those charges of questionable practices and a lack of diverse membership led NBC to announce that it would not air the Golden Globes in 2022.
In May 2021, HFPA announced a timeline that would overhaul the organization by creating “five pillars of change: accountability, membership, inclusion, good governance/ethics, and transparency.”
This January, without NBC as broadcast partner, the HFPA moved forward with the 2022 Golden Globes — in a private ceremony at the Beverly Hilton, without any nominees in attendance. The 2022 ceremony put an emphasis on the Golden Globes’ philanthropic partners and efforts instead.