The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Golden Globes gets another black eye from new lawsuit

January 14, 2011 | 12:24 pm

Golden_globes You know you're really in trouble when you're being sued by your former publicist, which is exactly what's happening to the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. (HFPA) on the eve of this Sunday's Golden Globe awards. According to the Wrap, who broke the story, Michael Russell, who ran press for the show for 17 years, has charged the HFPA with fraud and corrupt practices. He claims that a number of members of the organization accepted money, vacations and gifts from studios in exchange for nominating their films in addition to selling media credentials and red carpet space for gifts. He also says the HFPA accepted payment from studios and producers for lobbying other members for award nominations.

Accepting money, vacations and gifts? Who does the HFPA think they are -- members of Congress or something? Maybe someone should make Charlie Rangel, the former chairman of the House Ways and Means committee who was recently censured by the House for similar transgressions, an honorary HFPA member.

There are two ways to look at what's going on. It could well be that Russell, who resigned as the HFPA's publicist last March, is a disgruntled PR exec with an axe to grind. But it's also very possible that he got tired of defending the HFPA against a variety of practices that called into question the group's integrity. I talked to a couple of Hollywood insiders this morning, neither of whom were surprised at all to hear about the charges.

Most people in Hollywood view the Globes as being a lot like one of those big-time college football factories who send their teams to high-profile bowl games, but engage in all sorts of seamy recruiting practices along the way. I'm sure there are cynics who are saying that the timing of Russell's lawsuit is suspect, coming just days before the HFPA's award show. But after all, Russell is a good publicist, so if he was looking to get a maximum amount of publicity, his timing was impeccable.

-- Patrick Goldstein

Photo: Celebrities arriving at the 66th Annual Golden Globes Awards in 2009 in Beverly Hills.  

Credit: Matt Sayles/Associated Press

 

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