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Golden Globes TV rights trial opens in Los Angeles

January 24, 2012 |  2:19 pm

GervaisglobesA legal battle over who controls the television rights to the Golden Globe Awards kicked off Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

At issue is a 2010 TV deal Dick Clark Productions, which produces the Golden Globe Awards telecast, signed to keep the program on NBC.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. (HFPA), which created and owns the Golden Globes, filed suit soon after that deal, claiming it was done without the group's approval.

Dick Clark Productions, which has been a partner with HFPA on the Globes since 1983, has argued it had the rights to negotiate a new contract with NBC, and didn't need a green light from HFPA.

"The contract says no such thing," Daniel Petrocelli, the lawyer representing HFPA, said in his opening remarks. He added that the actions of Dick Clark Productions prevented "the rights from being sold to the highest bidder." The idea that HFPA would have signed an agreement that would allow that, he said, "defies common sense."

Martin Katz, the lawyer for Dick Clark Productions, fired back in his opening remarks that the company did not need permission to renew with NBC, and that the suit is an effort by HFPA to undo a contract it no longer likes.

The first witness was Fran LaMaina, the retired president of Dick Clark Productions, who oversaw several of the early contract talks between the two entities.

Petrocelli questioned LaMaina on the history of the relationship, attempting to show how closely involved HFPA had been in the business side of the awards show.

The crux of the fight is over a 1993 amendment to the partnership that Dick Clark Productions argues gives it the rights to produce the show and be a 50-50 partner as long as it remains on NBC.

The HFPA is trying to show that it would never knowingly agree to such a condition, which would prevent the show from being shopped to other networks.

The bench trial is expected to last at least two weeks.

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— Joe Flint

Photo: Ricky Gervais hosted this year's Golden Globes telecast on NBC. At issue in the trial is whether Dick Clark Productions had the rights to negotiate a new contract with the network, which the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. says was done without its approval. Credit: Paul Drinkwater / Associated Press

 

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