UPDATE, 8:20 PM: It took the Hollywood Foreign Press Association a few hours to respond to a piercing new antitrust lawsuit filed today that strips back a lot of the inner workings of the group. Yet now the group has and they aren’t playing defense.
“While the HFPA has not yet been served with this complaint, it seems consistent with Ms. Flaa’s ongoing attempts to shake down the HFPA, demanding that the HFPA pay her off and immediately admit her prior to the conclusion of the usual annual election process applied to every other HFPA applicant,” the HFPA said in a statement tonight after Norwegian entertainment journalist Kjersti Flaa took the Golden Globes organizing group to court Monday in a scathing antitrust lawsuit.
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“The HFPA has refused to pay ransom, telling Ms. Flaa that membership was not gained through intimidation,” the senior centric 87-member organization added. “Ms. Flaa and her attorney are now asking a court to order her into the organization and pay her.”
Along with the over 70-year old non-profit HFPA itself, current president Lorenzo Soria, past president Meher Tatna and other high placed members are named as defendants in unsuccessful membership applicant Flaa’s jury trial demanding action.
“The HFPA takes seriously its obligations as an organization and its dedication to foreign journalism and philanthropy, and it will vigorously defend against these baseless claims,” the rarely transparent HFPA concluded in its statement.
While the HFPA has long been the butt of jokes for its less than stringent attitude to freebies and sucking up to stars by many a Golden Globe host over the years at the traditionally boozy annual ceremony, the group plan to respond quickly in the docket to today’s lawsuit, I hear.
PREVIOUSLY, 4:04 PM: More than six months before the 78th annual Golden Globe Awards are set to air on NBC, organizer Hollywood Foreign Press Association finds itself awkwardly exposed in the legal spotlight.
“The HFPA is so focused on protecting its monopoly position and tax-free benefits that it has adopted Bylaw provisions that exclude from membership all objectively qualified applicants who might possibly compete with an existing members,” reads a revealing antitrust lawsuit filed Monday in federal court by unsuccessful membership applicant Kjersti Flaa of Norway against the often-furtive 87-member organization.
“There are no standards or guidelines for satisfying the subjective portions of the applications process and rejected applicants have no right to demand either that the applications procedure be fair or that they be allowed to appeal an adverse decision made for obviously improper and unlawful reasons,” adds the filing (read it here) from the Norwegian entertainment journalist that seeks widespread damages and a jury trial.
Essentially claiming that the Lorenzo Soria-led HFPA is a private club that is “unwilling to share the enormous economic benefits membership provides,” the five-claim filing also seeks “preliminary and permanent relief prohibiting the HFPA and its members from unlawfully competing with non-HFPA-member foreign entertainment journalists residing in Southern California or denying them the benefits of HFPA membership.”
It is basically a polite way of saying the party’s over, gang, if a jury of 12 Angelenos agree with Flaa and her attorney David Quinto, who was one of AMPAS’ main lawyers for many years.
Representatives for the HFPA did not respond to request for comment on today’s damning lawsuit from Flaa, host of Nordic Oscar Weekend and former God Kveld Norge (Good Evening Norway) contributor.
“Because the HFPA’s members will not admit anyone who might possibly compete with an existing member, either by selling to the same publications or to competing publications, the average age of HFPA members has steadily increased,” today’s 42-page filing states. It also claims spicy nuggets like how territories are protectively carved up, strong-arming within the organization, offers of high end freebies by Disney, and how the HFPA supposedly “pays one of its members more than $20,000 annually merely to assign the seating at the Golden Globes awards ceremony.” Oh yeah, among other claims of “corrupt and unlawful practices” by the ethically questioned HFPA, the organization apparently has almost $60 million in the bank.
“Only half the HFPA’s members are considered truly ‘active’; the remaining half either do the bare minimum required to maintain their ‘active’ status or are relieved from having to meet minimum requirements by virtue of their longevity with the organization,” according to the unorthodox application of sorts from Flaa, who was rejected for HFPA membership in 2018 and again in 2019. “The HFPA’s 87 members — all of whom are eligible to vote for the Golden Globe Award winners — include 5 persons in their 90s, an approximately equal number in their 80s, and numerous members in their 70s.”
Aka, not a lot of new blood despite claiming to represent a global citizenry of journalists.
The next Golden Globes, to be hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and produced by dick clark prods, are set for February 28 — which will likely be long before this matter is settled or ruled on.