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The Golden Globes go on, but won't be televised

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

If you're a fan of the big entertainment award shows, then you probably already know the COVID pandemic is still having an impact. The Grammys, for example, are postponed - not the Golden Globes, though. That annual ceremony is still set to take place in person in Beverly Hills this evening. But there will be big changes, tight limits on the audience size. Nominees are not even expected to attend, and the ceremony won't even be televised. So that made us wonder, do we really still care? We called NPR arts correspondent Mandalit del Barco to ask.

Welcome, Mandalit. Thanks so much for joining us.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Oh, thank you.

MARTIN: So first of all, why don't you just tell us what is planned for this evening?

DEL BARCO: Golden Globes is happening tonight, though it's expected to be a really pared down, private event, with maybe only a few people in the live audience from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the HFPA, which hosts the Golden Globes. And, you know, since 1944, this group of journalists for international outlets have put on a really fun, boozy kind of party filled with film and TV stars. But that's not what this is going to be tonight. So NBC is not broadcasting the ceremony, and it won't even be livestreamed. The winners will be announced to the public on the Golden Globes' website and the Twitter feed.

MARTIN: Now, is that all because of the pandemic?

DEL BARCO: No. Actually, not so much. It's because of the scandals that have rocked the HFPA. Some say it was an open secret that the members of the HFPA were wined and dined by studios hoping to nab a Golden Globe for their talent. And critics question who were these members? And they wondered why a small group had so much power in Hollywood. Past hosts of the Golden Globes, like Ricky Gervais, even made jokes about the ceremony. And everybody seemed to just laugh along.

But then things started to unravel. There were lawsuits by some journalists who say they were never allowed to join the group. And then last year, the LA Times published investigations where members and former members accused the organization of corruption. The HFPA denied many of the allegations, but they couldn't deny something else the LA Times reported. And that was that the organization had zero members who were Black. In fact, Tina Fey called them out during the ceremony last year.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TINA FEY: There are no Black members of the Hollywood foreign press. I realize, HFPA, maybe you guys didn't get the memo because your workplace is the back booth of a French McDonald's, but...

(LAUGHTER)

FEY: ...You got to change that.

DEL BARCO: So it was a lack of diversity that seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. And after that, the backlash was very swift. Studios like Netflix, Amazon and WarnerMedia said they wouldn't participate with the Golden Globes until after the HFPA made substantial changes. Hollywood publicists protested against the HFPA. Celebrities called out the organization. And even A-lister Tom Cruise returned his three Golden Globe statuettes in protest.

MARTIN: So the HFPA did make some changes, I understand, after that. Like, what were they?

DEL BARCO: Yeah. So over the past year, the HFPA invited 21 new members, six of whom are Black. I spoke to three of them, and they said they were excited, and they felt welcome. Also this year, the organization signed a five-year partnership with the NAACP. They'll probably be talking about that during this - whatever ceremony happens. The HFPA also hired a new diversity and inclusion officer, Neil Phillips. And this is what he told me.

NEIL PHILLIPS: I've been very impressed by how the organization has responded, frankly, to well-deserved criticism around some oversight and some underrepresentation.

DEL BARCO: The new HFPA president also told me the organization changed its bylaws and then re-accredited its members. They had everyone sign a new code of conduct. And they said if anyone violates it, they could get kicked out of the group.

MARTIN: So the group's made some changes. And as you told us, tonight's awards ceremony is happening, even if it's not on TV. But I have to ask, does anybody still care about the Golden Globes anymore?

DEL BARCO: Well, you know, it has been a tradition for many years. And it was always kind of the kickoff to the awards season. Of course, that's different this year and last year during the pandemic. But it was a chance for the stars to get out there, get their faces out there, just to remind voters of other awards, that they're there, you know? But a lot of people in Hollywood seem to think it's now curtains for the Golden Globes, which some say may be tarnished beyond repair. And we'll just have to see if any of the winners eventually accept their awards or if they have anything at all to say about the Golden Globes.

MARTIN: That was NPR arts correspondent Mandalit del Barco. Mandalit, thank you so much for bringing us up to speed on the Golden Globes.

DEL BARCO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.
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