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

November 17, 2010 |  3:21 pm


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.