What is the Hollywood Foreign Press Associaton?
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is the group behind the annual Golden Globe Awards and is an organization of journalists who cover the film and television industry in the U.S. for outlets in Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America. The HFPA has about 90 members.
The HFPA was formed by a group of foreign journalists in the 1940s in order for them to have more clout and access to the studios and stars. The first Golden Globe Awards were handed out in 1944. Television productions began to be honored as well in 1955.
The group has often been a butt of jokes and many view Hollywood’s pandering to it as a means to get additional publicity for their efforts to win the more prestigious Academy Awards. Criticisms are often levelled at the journalists and the clubby atmosphere of the organization. Most of the top foreign publications are not represented by the group and some of the members, who must be sponsored by other members, aren’t even full-time journalists.
From 1968 to 1974 the Golden Globe Awards were not aired on NBC, with whom the HFPA had a lucrative contract, after the FCC (the U.S. Federal Communications Commission) complained that the show misled the public as to the awards process, when the winners were most often the stars most likely to attend.
The Eighties started off with a controversy, when Pia Zadora won a Newcomer of the Year Globe for her performance in Butterfly. The actress, who is best known as a Globes trivia answer, beat out Elizabeth McGovern’s performance in Ragtime and Kathleen Turner’s in Body Heat. The mainstream press had a field day as the film had not yet been released in the States and her millionaire husband Meshulam Riklis, had flown HFPA members to his Vegas casino as well as showering them with a lavish screening at his house. The accusation was made that the award had basically been bought.
The HFPA isn’t even safe from these criticisms at their own awards show. In 2011, ceremony host made several jokes at the HFPA’s expense suggesting that they took bribes in exchange for nominations for The Tourist and Burlesque.
It’s probably best to view the HFPA and the Golden Globes in the correct light. For Hollywood, it’s a rest stop on the road to the Oscars and for fans it’s a night of fun, dresses and alcohol-fueled speeches. Nothing more, nothing less.