Ex-HFPA president backs Dick Clark Productions in Globes fight
A steadfast Mirjana Van Blaricom, who was president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. in 1993 when it renewed what is now a contested television rights contract with Dick Clark Productions, testified Friday that the HFPA knew all the details of the deal at the time it was signed.
Those details include an amendment that Dick Clark Productions believes gives it the rights to produce the HFPA-owned Golden Globes awards show in perpetuity as long as the program remains on NBC. In 2010, HFPA sued Dick Clark Productions after the latter signed a renewal agreement worth $150 million that keeps the Golden Globes on NBC through 2018. The HFPA alleged that its agreement with Dick Clark Productions did not give DCP the right to renew the deal without the association's approval. Dick Clark Productions countered that the amendment gave it the right.
The amendment was put into the contract with HFPA at the time Dick Clark Productions, now owned by Red Zone Capital, first landed a deal with NBC for the Golden Globes. The NBC pact was a big coup for the show and the HFPA. Prior to that, the awards program had been on the TBS cable channel and earlier was syndicated nationally.
"We were in a very bad corner at the time," Van Blaricom testified in court Friday. The show had been dropped by NBC in the late 1960s after the FCC chastised the HFPA over how it chose winners. It got back on network TV -- CBS -- in the early 1980s only to be dropped again after Pia Zadora was given an award as "newcomer of the year."
Dick Clark Productions entered the picture in 1983, forming a partnership with HFPA designed to return some luster to the show and eventually return it to broadcast television.
The HFPA is trying to make the case that not only is DCP's interpretation of the contract wrong, but that the membership was not aware of the significance of the amendment at the time the agreement was signed. It has also been suggested that Van Blaricom, who is no longer associated with the HFPA, signed off on the contract without proper approval.
Van Blaricom, who at times was combative in court with Daniel Petrocelli, the O'Melveny & Myers lawyer handling the HFPA's case, said both she and the HFPA knew the meaning of that amendment.
"Nobody complained about the contract, everyone was ecstatic," Van Blaricom said, adding that while the perpetuity amendment was not "specifically discussed, but it was understood." The main concern of the HFPA at that time, Van Blaricom said, was that the organization avoid any more scandals or controversies that could jeopardize its pact with NBC.
Van Blaricom, who left the HFPA in the mid-1990s after clashing with other members, has no love lost for the organization.
"Hollywood Foreign Press is something I want to forget," she said on the stand.
The bench trial, which is taking place in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles, is expected to wrap next week. It is still not clear if Dick Clark himself will testify in person or if only his deposition will be used.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Golden Globe Statue Credit: NBC