Golden Globes 2023: How to watch Hollywood’s most chaotic awards
Here’s something you probably didn’t know: The Golden Globes are this week.
Wait, the Golden Globes are back?
They sure are. The Golden Globes will air on NBC and be televised on the Peacock beginning at 8:00 PM ET on Tuesday, January 10, live from the Beverly Hilton. There’s a preview at 6:30pm ET if you want to hear the stars and hosts have a tough talk on the red carpet.
It’s been a strange few years for the Golden Globes. In 2021, the show was bicoastal; it was simulcast in New York and Los Angeles, was directed by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and seemed to make a strong case for its irrelevance. In 2022, there were awards, but they were not televised.
Why? Was there some controversy or something?
More than one!
It’s a long, complicated story, but to make a long story short, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) — the organization of about 90 US-based journalists who cover the business for non-US media outlets — has found itself under a cloud of scandal. following a 2021 LA Times Investigation. Here are some of the issues the Times raised:
The HFPA’s dirty little (very open) secret was that members were wined and dined and showered with lavish gifts from studios hoping their shows and films would receive nominations. In the story, some of the details came alive. For example, Paramount Network, which produces Emily in Paris for Netflix, brought 30 HFPA members to Paris for two nights at a $1,400-a-night hotel. And indeed, the show received two Golden Globe nominations. The organization was found to have established a system of bribes and internal payments to members. Members who served on various committees, with assignments that included watching foreign films or working with archives, were paid, in some cases several thousand dollars a month. According to the story, there was a lot of unprofessional behavior in the group: “Those who have interacted with the organization describe members falling asleep on screens, swearing at each other during press conferences and often engaging in personal fights.” The group had no black members at all.
All of this threatens the integrity of the awards, although in truth the Globes have long been considered the kind of awards to watch in the industry, at least for a group made up, ostensibly, of journalists. Their wacky nominations and unpredictable awards shows fueled by an open bar introduce an element of crazy fun to an otherwise fairly predictable awards season. And if it’s some kind of backroom relationship, eh, who cares?
Well, some people care because they care about the prizes, which can be a real boost to the winners’ careers. Lack of diversity in a voting body leads to lopsided winners, for example. Bribery and payoffs skew members’ votes.
But there’s also some much darker misconduct that HFPA members have been accused of — most notably, former eight-term president Philip Berk.
In 2014, Berk published a memoir titled With Signs and Wonders: My Journey from Darkest Africa to the Bright Lights of Hollywood. (Berk is from South Africa.) At the time, HFPA members felt he unfairly blindsided them with the book and took too much credit for the Globes’ success. After much pressure, he was forced to take a six-month sabbatical from the group.
Then, in 2018, actor Brendan Fraser accused Berk of sexually assaulting him in 2003. Berk denied the story and reportedly offered a private, half-hearted apology. Meanwhile, the HFPA launched an internal investigation and determined that the incident was intended as a prank; the organization declined to share the investigator’s report with Fraser, but asked him to sign a joint statement. Fraser refused.
Fraser is nominated for a Globe this year, for his performance in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. But long before the nominations were announced, he made it clear he would not be attending the ceremony.
Berk remained a voter in good standing with the organization until April 20, 2021. The organization, under a cloud of controversy after an LA Times investigation revealed a severe lack of racial diversity in the group, expelled Berk after an email he sent to members in which he called Black Lives Matter a “racist hate movement.” NBC, the network that paid the group millions of dollars for the rights to air the show, released a statement saying Berk should be fired. “Swift action on this front is an essential element for NBC to move forward with the HFPA and the Golden Globes,” the statement said. Berk was expelled that day.
So the controversies surrounding the Golden Globes and the HFPA have been many and varied, and if you don’t follow entertainment industry news closely, they’ve also been pretty confusing.
Has the group made changes?
Yes. About a week after the 2021 ceremony, on March 6, the HFPA released a mea culpa statement in which they made a number of promises. They would expand membership and increase its diversity, make their voting methods more transparent and review potential ethical violations — all within the next 60 days. Meanwhile, more than 100 advertising agencies circulated a letter denying HFPA access to clients if they failed to make their reforms.
On May 3, 2021, nearly 60 days after the pledge, the HFPA announced its intentions to grow its membership, particularly by recruiting from underrepresented groups. It seems that this was not showing enough movement for many people. On May 7, Netflix announced it would boycott the Golden Globes; several A-list celebrities, as well as Amazon Studios, quickly followed and Tom Cruise brought back three Golden Globes. By May 10, NBC had announced that they would not be airing the ceremony in 2022, saying that “a change of this magnitude takes time and work” and that the HFPA “needs time to get it right.” NBC suggested that if the reforms were implemented sufficiently, the Globes would return to TV in 2023.
Now it’s 2023, and they’re back. Hollywood may still be worried about the HFPA and Golden Globes, but according to news reports, they’re ready to party. With the help of consultants, the HFPA has untangled a tricky needle: While they modestly increased membership by adding 21 US-based members, they also invited an additional 103 non-member voters to choose the awards.
The HFPA has said that new voters are much more racially diverse than in the past: 22.3 percent are Latino, 13.6 percent are black, 11.7 percent are Asian, 10.7 percent are Middle Eastern and 41.7 percent are white, with 58.3 percent. self-identifying as “ethnically diverse”. The voting body now totals 200, with 52 percent female voters and 51.5 percent who are “racially and ethnically diverse.” Its geographic range also expanded; the majority are still from Europe (43.5 percent), but the number of voters from other regions has increased: Latin America (18.5 percent), Asia (17 percent), the Middle East (9 percent), and Africa (7 percent).
The organization established a no-gifts policy in July 2021 and opened a hotline that allows people to report incidents, complaints and claims. Some members still receive a stipend from the organization, which HFPA President Helen Hoehne described to Deadline as a “stipend,” for performing certain tasks, such as serving on committees.
Insiders seem to have a number of different opinions about the validity of the Globes. After all, such a huge cloud of doubt cannot go away overnight. Does winning a Globe mean the same as it did in the past, now that the average person might have a negative opinion? Does it even matter? In the smoke-and-mirrors world of Hollywood awards, it might not be. Time will tell.
What’s the big deal about the Golden Globes anyway?
Here’s the thing: There’s nothing inherently interesting about the Golden Globes, compared to a host of other awards given out on the eve of the Oscars. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is no more prominent than any other critical body. Why has the average casual viewer heard of the Golden Globes but not, say, the Independent Spirit Awards or the Critics Choice Awards? Or the awards given by various regional critics? Why are we more interested in the Golden Globes than the Screen Actors Guild or the Directors?
As befits our times, the answer is simple: The Golden Globes are famous for being famous, and we watch them because they’re on TV. If you have heard of them and they are considered important, then they take on importance.
They are also perfectly positioned to at least give the illusion of “predicting” the Oscars results, although the reality is a bit different. There’s an idea that Academy voters — the 10,000-strong industry group that hands out the Oscars — are watching the Golden Globes as they decide who to put on the ballot for their nominations. Nominations for the Oscars open on January 12, two days after this year’s ceremony. So you can see why the pressure is high.
Ultimately, though, if you want to predict Oscar results, the Golden Globes are an imperfect measure. For the most part, it’s the spectacle that keeps people coming back. (Both Renee Zellweger and Christine Lahti were in the bathroom when they won their awards and had to rush back, and it was pretty funny.)
What can we expect for this year’s show?
Maybe some weird emotions, jokes about the last few years and – if Brendan Fraser wins in his category – some really awkward moments.
Comedian Jerrod Carmichael is hosting the show and the usual cast of stars are appearing to present individual awards. The stars in attendance, nominated and otherwise, are said to be showing up in full force. And they will all be there in person; unlike previous years, there will be no virtual participants.
Ryan Murphy will receive the Carol Burnett Award for Outstanding Contribution to Television, and Eddie Murphy will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award, which honors the same thing, but for film. There will still be an open bar (as far as we know), but I doubt everyone will be on their best behavior, as this feels a bit like a test year to see if the Globes will hold up. (In other words, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see anything like The Slap.)
Okay, but why is it Tuesday?
Why not? There are probably several reasons — advertisers may be one of them — but the most likely is that NBC has the rights to Sunday Night Football this season. This is show business!
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