LOS ANGELES: A former publicist for the Golden Globes show is suing its organisers for a breach of contract and allegedly taking bribes.
Michael Russell, who worked for the Globes’ organisers for 17 years, wants at least two million dollars in damages and lost wages from them and is accusing them of running a “payola” scheme, according to the lawsuit.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) dismissed the action as a case of “a disgruntled former consulting firm” trying to cash in.
The lawsuit was filed at the Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday, three days ahead of Sunday’s glitzy Golden Globes show.
The heart of the complaint was that HFPA members could receive compensation from film companies in return for lobbying for certain movies to be nominated for the awards.
The 36-page legal document includes the allegations that “HFPA members abuse their positions and engage in unethical and potentially unlawful deals and arrangements which amount to a ‘payola’ scheme.”
The HFPA dismissed the lawsuit, calling the allegations “completely without merit.
“This is no more than the case of a disgruntled former consulting firm, whose contract was not renewed, attempting to take advantage once again of the Globe’s international stage for their own gain,” it said in a statement.
Sunday’s show kicks off the annual awards season, leading up to the Oscars on February 27.
British historical drama The King’s Speech starring Colin Firth and Helen Bonham-Carter leads with seven nominations for the Globes, followed by six for Facebook film The Social Network.
Industry insiders point to the HFPA’s relatively tiny voting body of 81 members, against the Academy Awards’ more than 5,700, alleging that the Globes are too open to undue influence by movie companies.
One film’s inclusion in the shortlist this year triggered smirks around Hollywood.
The Tourist, starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, was critically panned but nominated surprisingly in the comedy or musical category, in what gossip suggests was a blatant bid to gets A list stars to attend Sunday.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2011.
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