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Category: Red Zone Capital

Golden Globes trial ends; decision now rests with judge

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With the two sides hopelessly deadlocked, a federal judge now must determine who controls the lucrative television rights to the Golden Globes Awards show.

Before a packed courtroom in downtown Los Angeles, lawyers representing the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which owns the Golden Globes, and Dick Clark Productions, which has produced the annual extravaganza for nearly 30 years, wrapped up their three-week trial with closing arguments  Friday.

U.S. District Court Judge A. Howard Matz had urged the sides to try to settle the case before Friday's finale -- but the parties remained at loggerheads.

At issue is the validity of a 2010 agreement that Dick Clark Productions struck with NBC that would keep the Golden Globes on the network through 2018 -- a deal worth as much as $150 million.  

But soon after that pact was announced, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. cried foul. The group sued Dick Clark Productions, contending that the production firm lacked the authority to enter into a new TV contract without its consent. 

Dick Clark Productions, meanwhile, maintains that a pivotal section of a 1993 contract gave the firm latitude to renew its TV licensing agreement as long as NBC remained the television broadcast partner.  Dick Clark Productions was acquired in 2007 by Red Zone Capital Management Co., a private equity firm controlled by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

Matz must now interpret the 1993 agreement. If he sides with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the organization could shop the deal to other networks and launch a bidding war.  

His decision is not expected for several weeks.

"It's going to take some time before I can get back to this," Matz said immediately after declaring the end of the trial. Then he complimented the legal teams, saying: "This case has been handled very professionally and I am grateful for that." 

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Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. sues Dick Clark Productions and Dan Snyder's Red Zone for breach of contract

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The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. -- the creator and owner of the Golden Globe Awards -- has filed a lawsuit against Dick Clark Productions, which has produced the awards show for almost two decades.

The suit alleges that Dick Clark Productions, or DCP -- a unit of Red Zone Capital, a private equity firm headed by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder -- has breached its contract with the association on several fronts, including secretly signing an extension of NBC's current agreement to air the Golden Globes. The suit was filed Wednesday afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

"DCP acts as though it has unilateral right to license the broadcast rights for the Golden Globe Awards on whatever terms it pleases, without HFPA's knowledge or authorization," the suit said.

A Dick Clark Productions spokesperson said, "the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, knowing it has no case in a court of law, is attempting to try this case in the court of public opinion" and added that "respective rights under the contract are clear." 

An NBC spokeswoman declined to comment on the suit.

Under the terms of the current deal between the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and DCP, the production company gets 50% of the net profit the show generates. The agreement between the association and Dick Clark Productions ends after this January's Golden Globes. NBC will pay $13.3 million in rights fees to telecast that show, according to a person familiar with the pact.

Though the two sides do not have a new deal, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. said DCP at the end of October signed a new rights deal with NBC that runs from 2012 through 2018. The price tag for that deal goes from $17 million in 2012 to $26 million in 2018. The HFPA thinks that price undervalues the franchise.

The association said Dick Clark Productions signed the deal with NBC "all behind HFPA's back and all the while pretending to negotiate a new contract with HFPA."

Furthermore, the suit charges DCP with trying to "exploit the Golden Globe-related marks, license the digital and other ancillary rights, create promotional campaigns, or sell sponsorships" without permission. The association said it has never given up those rights and Dick Clark Productions is "trying to steal them."

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. mentioned failed talks with Facebook as an example, claiming that DCP told Facebook that it, not the association, owned digital rights, after the association approached the social networking site about a digital component to the show.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. also accuses Red Zone and DCP of doing secret deals with sponsors and keeping the money for itself, all as part of a plan to take over the Globes.

The suit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction against Dick Clark Productions and Red Zone from using the Globe trademarks for anything not related to this January's show.

The 2010 Golden Globes drew 17.2 million viewers on NBC, up 14% from 2009, according to Nielsen.

-- Joe Flint

For the record: This post was updated at 5:30 p.m. with a response to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association suit from Dick Clark Productions.

Photo: Actress Kate Hudson arrives at last January's Golden Globes. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times.

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