Dick Clark Productions wins Golden Globes lawsuit
The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., owner of the Golden Globe Awards, had sued Dick Clark Productions, the program's longtime producer, over a $150-million deal DCP had struck in 2010 to keep the show on NBC through 2018. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
The HFPA claimed that DCP had entered into that agreement without the association's approval and thus had violated the contract.
DCP, owned since 2007 by Red Zone Capital Management Co., a private equity firm controlled by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, countered that a 1993 amendment to its almost 30-year-old agreement with HFPA to produce the show gave it the right to renegotiate with NBC without the association's approval.
In a rebuke to the HFPA, not only did Judge Howard Matz side with Dick Clark Productions, he also said that what was essentially a contract dispute should have never ended up in a courtroom and that the HFPA "suffered from the absence of sound, businesslike practices."
Matz went on to say the parade of HFPA presidents and board members who testified at the trial "proved to be of little, if any, value to the court."
HFPA had unsuccessfully tried to argue that the 1993 amendment did not give DCP the rights to the Golden Globes in perpetuity as long as the program remained on NBC. HFPA was hoping to get back the TV rights to the show and shop it to a rival network. In a video deposition, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said his network would have been willing to pay at least $25 million a year for the show, almost $4 million more than NBC's average fee.
In his 89-page ruling, Matz said that both parties understood the meaning of the 1993 amendment and that DCP had not acted in bad faith.
The bench trial, which ran roughly three weeks in January, featured testimony from several high-profile industry executives. In addition to Moonves and DCP Chief Executive Mark Shapiro, people who provided testimony either in person or through depositions included former NBC Entertainment business head Marc Graboff and even Dick Clark, who died this month.
"So much litigation over 12 words, but we are incredibly thankful that our clients' rights have been vindicated. Judge Matz's decision was extremely thorough and well thought out," said Martin Katz of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, who was the lead attorney for DCP.
A spokesman for the HFPA and the association's legal counsel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Sofia Vergara at the Golden Globes. Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times