Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Golden Globers

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Golden Globers

Article excerpt

It was perfect timing.

Christmas was a week away and the 84 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) were ready to pick its favorite actors for the 2000 Golden Globe awards.

So Sharon Stone - hint, hint - sent each member of the HFPA a personally inscribed watch that had been advertised in The New York Times for $395. Stone won a nomination, but lost in the finals - a reprise of last year when she sent sweet personal notes to all the Golden Globe judges before being nominated.

But a note is not a watch. There was media gossip. And the HFPA felt it was time to make a statement to silence critics who see them only as Junket Journalists.

"If we had kept the watches, we would have been dead in the water," said Helmut Voss, president of the HFPA and West Coast bureau chief of the Germany-based Springer Newspaper Group. "It would have destroyed the credibility of the Golden Globe awards."

Voss was agitated as he pleaded once again with an American journalist to believe his band of Hollywood-based writers for foreign publications were squeaky-clean operatives. "The watches were inappropriate," Voss explained, carefully enunciating every word. "The awards are independently arrived at."

OK, watches are out. And that's good. But if the Golden Globers want to be as clean as Caesar's you-know-who, how come they keep going on studio-sponsored junkets?

"Why shouldn't they have junkets for us?" Voss asked. "We provide them with an extraordinary amount of clippings all over the world."

A junket - for nonfreeloaders - is a trip financed by folks you cover. Take a plane ride here, a hotel room there, some fancy dinners thereafter, and before you can shout "Cider House Rules" you've spent enough money to buy three or four watches.

"We pay for our own travel," objected Voss. "The studios pay for our hotel rooms for two or three days, and they give us a per diem [$125]." Which means that each HFPA writer spends more than $1,000 of studio money for a weekend in New York - a favorite destination for cinema chroniclers. A fact that might make unbiased observers blink a bit.

The HFPA is able to lay out the plane fare for its members because it collects several million dollars a year from the NBC broadcast of the Golden Globes award ceremony.

"We're no different than the domestic press," Voss said. …

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