Golden Globes trial delayed
The much-anticpated courtroom battle between the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Dick Clark Productions over who can sell the television rights for the Golden Globe Awards has been delayed.
Opening arguments had been set for Tuesday morning at U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, but Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank has advised the HFPA lawyers that she is now unable to preside over the trial. A new judge will have to be assigned and the case rescheduled. It is expected to be at least another month before the trial starts, people from each side of the dispute said. A call to Judge Fairbank's chambers was not immediately returned.
The case was generating a lot of attention in Hollywood as several big shots were expected to have to testify, including Dick Clark himself, Dick Clark Productions Chief Executive Mark Shapiro, NBCUniversal West Coast Business Operations President Marc Graboff and CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves. Shapiro is also a member of the board of directors of Tribune Co., parent of the Los Angeles Times.
At issue is a new six-year deal Dick Clark Productions cut last October with NBC -- the longstanding home of the Golden Globes -- that will keep the show on the network through 2018. The price tag goes from $17 million for the January 2012 show to $26 million in 2018. NBC paid $13.3 million for the 2011 telecast.
The ink was barely dry on the new contract when the HFPA filed a suit charging that Dick Clark Productions had violated the terms of its partnership with the HFPA by not consulting with it first before renewing the NBC deal at a price “substantially below current market rate,” according to its lawsuit.
The two are arguing over whether their current agreement gave Dick Clark Productions the right to sign a renewal with NBC without consulting first with the HFPA. Dick Clark Productions had argued that its production deal with HFPA gave it that power.
HFPA countered that was not the case and that NBC got a sweetheart deal. The two have been partners on the show for almost three decades.
The HFPA has also questioned how Dick Clark Productions has handled finances for the telecast. The two split the net profit from the show.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Ricky Gervais with Golden Globe Statuette. Credit: Todd Antony / NBC