Can the Golden Globes make a comeback?
What to know about the precarious future of the Golden Globes.
The Golden Globe Awards recently unveiled its 2022 nominees even though NBC has canceled the show for this year. Why has the awards ceremony been under fire, and can it make a comeback?
What are the Golden Globes, and who gives them out?
The Golden Globe Awards honor the best of film and television annually, and they're voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of journalists from around the world. It's a rather small organization consisting of about 100 members compared to the almost 10,000-person voting body that selects winners at the Oscars.
Over the years, the Globes have been known for sometimes surprising and unconventional choices that leave awards pundits confused, including when the poorly-reviewed Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie film The Tourist was nominated for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy in 2011. Picks like these have led to frequent mockery of the ceremony, and comedian Ricky Gervais while hosting the Globes has called the awards "worthless," joked that they can be "bought," and alleged The Tourist was nominated because voters "accepted bribes." But the Golden Globes have also typically been one of the highest-rated awards shows of the year, making the prizes important for studios looking to give their Oscar contenders more publicity at the beginning of awards season.
Why has the HFPA been under fire?
The Golden Globes faced significant backlash in February 2021 after the Los Angeles Times reported, among other things, that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association did not have a single Black member. The Globes at the time was already facing criticism over its 2021 nominees, as films starring Black ensembles including Judas and the Black Messiah and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom weren't nominated for Best Motion Picture.
Other allegations in the Los Angeles Times' reporting included that the HFPA, a non-profit, "issues substantial payments to its own members in ways that some experts say could run afoul of Internal Revenue Service guidelines." Additionally, journalist Kjersti Flaa accused the HFPA in an antitrust lawsuit of a "culture of corruption," alleging it unfairly excludes members and accepts "thousands of dollars in emoluments" from celebrities and studios. The lawsuit was dismissed, but similar allegations date back years. In 1982, CBS dropped the show after actress Pia Zadora surprisingly received a "new star of the year" award after her husband treated members of the HFPA to a Las Vegas trip, and a publicist in a 2011 lawsuit alleged members accept perks "provided by studios and producers in exchange for support or votes."
The HFPA has denied these claims, but they gained additional scrutiny after Netflix's Emily in Paris earned an unexpected nomination in 2021. The Los Angeles Times reported that in 2019, more than 30 HFPA members were flown to the show's set and treated "like kings and queens," and even a writer for the show questioned why it was nominated and I May Destroy You wasn't.
What was the fallout, and what is the HFPA doing to reform?
By May 2021, numerous publicists and major studios announced they would boycott the HFPA until the group implemented meaningful reforms, and Tom Cruise even returned his Golden Globes in protest. In the wake of these boycotts, the Globes' longtime broadcast home of NBC announced it wouldn't air the next ceremony in January 2022.
The HFPA has since hired a chief diversity officer, partnered with the NAACP, and added 21 new members, six of whom are Black. Other steps the HFPA has taken include approving new policies aimed at eliminating "ethical conflicts," such as a ban on gifts from publicists and studios, as well as a new code of conduct. "For eight months, we have worked tirelessly as an organization to be better," said the HFPA's new president, Helen Hoehne, in December 2021. The group's addition of six Black members in October, however, fell short of its pledge to have 13 percent Black membership by the next Golden Globes.
Will the 2022 Golden Globes happen?
In spite of all this, the HFPA is pressing ahead with plans for the 79th Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 9, though it's not currently clear what that will look like, and the ceremony won't be airing on television. The HFPA says it will not be the "celebrity-driven event that it has been in the past."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, some studios and networks have "quietly resumed interactions" with HFPA members after the recent reforms, but others "remain wary." One studio executive told the Los Angeles Times "it's too soon" for a comeback, arguing "they are heading in the right direction" with the reforms, "but they are not there yet, and they need time to actually take effect."
What was the reaction to this year's nominations?
The nominations for the 2022 Golden Globes were announced on Dec. 13. The HFPA amended its rules so studios didn't have to submit films and TV shows to be up for awards, allowing for a fairly typical slate of nominees despite the boycotts. However, the day the nominations were announced was far quieter than usual, with many studios and stars not immediately acknowledging their nominations the way they would in years' past. Some actors did mention them on social media, and Disney highlighted Emma Stone's nod for Cruella. Meanwhile, though, Focus Features and Netflix touted Belfast and The Power of the Dog's nominations at the Critics Choice Awards on Instagram while not highlighting both films also being nominated for Golden Globes the same day, Variety notes.
Will the Golden Globes return to TV?
When NBC canceled the Golden Globes for 2022, it said it was "hopeful" it could broadcast the show again in January 2023, and it has described the HFPA's reforms as a "positive step forward." Vanity Fair reports that "Hollywood insiders generally don't want to see the show fold permanently," and there's precedent for a Golden Globes comeback. After all, the awards ceremony previously returned to television not only after being dropped by CBS over the Zadora scandal but after being dropped by NBC when the FCC alleged the broadcast "substantially misleads the public as to how the winners were chosen."
But whether the Globes can reel studios and audiences back this time after such a public hit to its already iffy reputation remains to be seen. If not, the Critics' Choice Awards have positioned itself as a potential replacement. Those awards will now be given out on Jan. 9, the same day as the Golden Globes — and unlike the Globes, viewers will be able to watch them on TV.