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Former Golden Globes publicist sues the Hollywood Foreign Press for $2 million

January 13, 2011 |  9:58 pm

Michael Russell, formerly the lead publicist for the Golden Globes, filed a $2-million lawsuit Thursday against the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. for terminating a long-term deal with Russell and his company, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The report says Russell claims in the suit that his deal was terminated after he asked the association to stop accepting "payola" in connection with the Globes awards. The lawsuit says Russell attempted to convince HFPA President Philip Berk to end the "unethical and potentially unlawful deals" that many of the HFPA members allegedly engage in.

The suit comes just days before the annual telecast of the awards Sunday.

According to the Hollywood Reporter story, Russell's allegations include:

--HFPA members accepted lavish vacations and other gifts provided by studios in exchange for support in nominating particular films.

--HFPA members sell media credentials for profit.

--HFPA members accept payment from studios and producers for "representing" films and lobbying other members for Golden Globe nominations and awards.

Russell was let go in 2010 after handling publicity for the Globes since 1993. The 10-count complaint includes claims for breach of contract, fraud, defamation and violations of California's business and professions code.

HFPA representatives did not respond to a request for comment late Thursday night.

--Nicole Sperling