The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. is at odds over whether to accept a proposal by interim CEO Todd Boehly that will effectively transform the nonprofit international journalists’ group into a for-profit venture.
In an email to members on Sunday, Luca Celada, a former board director who represents Italy, openly questioned Boehly’s plan.
Calling it a “corporate takeover” and a play for the group’s “intellectual property,” Celada said the plan would make the nonprofit HFPA into a “subsidiary of his corporate portfolio,” according to the email obtained by The Times. “This project makes a lot of sense for Eldridge, but none for the HFPA.”
Earlier this month, Boehly, chairman of private equity firm Eldridge Industries, the parent company of longtime Globes producer Dick Clark Productions, (now known as MRC Live & Alternative) presented his plan during a general membership meeting.
Under his proposal, Eldridge would form a new company and acquire the Golden Globes assets based on an “independent third-party valuation firm,” according to the plan’s bullet points reviewed by The Times. The proceeds would be used to fund the charitable wing of the HFPA.
The association’s tax-exempt status would be dissolved, and the new association would enable members “the opportunity to share in its profits, thereby giving them a stake in the success of the Globes.”
In additional to approval by members, the plan would also need a final sign-off from California’s attorney general.
Boehly, appointed interim CEO of the HFPA last October, is part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Lakers and Sparks. He is currently bidding on the English Premier League soccer team, Chelsea FC. His firm Eldridge also owns stakes in the Beverly Hilton, the longtime home of the Globes awards ceremony as well as trade publications including the Hollywood Reporter.
Boehly was not immediately available for comment.
In his email, Celada suggested that handing over control of the group’s IP could “call into question the legal fiduciary obligation to act in the Association’s best interest.”
Additionally, he cautioned that the move might further tarnish the group’s reputation as a voting body, saying it could “transform us from independent award-voting members to corporate employees — that is how we would be perceived.”
“As with any organization such as the HFPA there is always going to be significant healthy debate about future plans and that is no different in the history of HFPA and no different moving forward as the HFPA contemplates these changes,” said James Lee, the organization’s spokesperson.
Lee added that the Eldridge proposal is still being discussed and vetted by the board, as well as outside counsel, and many elements have yet to be finalized, including the idea of expanding membership to 300.
Celada’s email elicited conflicting responses from other members, reflecting divisions within the organization and anxiety over its future.
“I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. But let’s not forget one thing: our resurrection, with or without Todd Boehly, is only possible if NBC puts the Globes back on the air. If that doesn’t happen, we are doomed since we will soon run out of money and go bankrupt,” wrote Hans Spürkel of Germany.
Jenny Cooney, a longtime member from Australia, replied in the thread that Celada’s email was “incendiary” and “not appropriate or professional … painting us as chaotic, disorganized and unable to transition into a professional organization.”
Ersi Danou of Greece countered, “But Luca is a legitimate member with a legitimate concern. A concern a lot of us have and we need addressed.”
Elisabeth Sereda, a member representing Austria, supported Boehly, writing that after “years of declining job opportunities for journalists …” the HFPA needed a new approach, “on what our organization and our brand should look like in the future.”
Calling Boehly’s plan a “constructive proposal,” Sereda slammed “dishonest and pandering emails” from others and described Boehly as a “man who has proven himself as someone who GROWS businesses instead of dismantling them.”
HFPA members cited in this email thread did not respond to requests for comment.
Boehly’s proposal is the latest rebound attempt to bring the HFPA back into the Hollywood fold. Last year, NBC dropped the broadcast of the 2022 Globes show, a contingent of powerful publicists boycotted the organization, and studios including Netflix and Warner Media cut ties after The Times’ investigation raised questions about the group’s ethical and financial lapses and revealed that not one of the then 87 members was Black.
Since then, the nonprofit HFPA has undertaken a series of reforms including establishing new bylaws, banning gifts and adding 21 new members, six of whom are Black.
The HFPA has not yet announced when the group will vote on the Boehly proposal.
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