The 79th annual Golden Globes won’t be televised or streamed Sunday, for the first time since its broadcast debut in the early 1980s. And two former members who resigned from the disgraced Hollywood Foreign Press Association say the organization behind the awards is so corrupt and toxic they doubt it will ever regain its former glory.
Wenting Xu, a Chinese journalist based in Los Angeles, and Diederik van Hoogstratten, a Dutch reporter now living in Austin, Texas, left the HFPA in June and both said they don’t miss being part of a group that embarrassed and bullied them.
Still, it was a shock to many to learn that the 2022 Golden Globes will be a completely private affair, as the HFPA announced Thursday. Winners’ names will be tweeted out and also published on the Golden Globes website during the ceremony.
The event, once arguably the biggest party of the awards season, will not include a red carpet, audience, celebrity presenters or press.
“The Globes went from being the most coveted publicity tool in Hollywood to one that not one celebrity will touch,” van Hoogstratten, 52, told The Post. “The reason there’s a private event on Sunday is because they could not get one celebrity presenter. That’s a remarkable change. They’re like the like the mafia now. Nobody can be seen with them. The brand has collapsed.”
NBC canceled its annual telecast of the awards after the HFPA was lambasted, following years of corruption-related allegations, for having no black members among its roughly 100-strong contingent — leading the group to announce a five-year diversity initiative called the “Reimagine Coalition.” The HFPA, formed in the early 1940s, is made up of journalists from some 55 countries, most of whom are based in the US.
Still, Xu, 38 who writes for World Screen magazine in China, and van Hoogstratten, who writes for the daily FD as well as the weekly newsmagazine Elsevier in the Netherlands, said they don’t believe diversity was the biggest scandal.
Van Hoogstratten said the HFPA had become a bloated, self-important group with as many as 30 committees filled with self-dealing members who were paid for little if any work.
“HFPA received vast sums of money from it broadcast contract for the Globes,” he said. “That money, in our view, should not have been spent on members doing jobs within the organization, but instead should [have gone] to worthwhile recipients and philanthropic initiatives. [Members] really seem to be looking out for themselves. They wanted those committee assignments, they wanted to be paid pretty well. I’ve been surprised that the IRS isn’t more interested in the HFPA. This is taxpayer money. You know, a nonprofit association isn’t supposed employ its own members for their benefit.”
Xu said her time with the group was fraught from the beginning. She applied twice before being accepted for membership in 2015 and, she said, even then there were rumors she had slept with her HFPA sponsor to get in.
“I was told by my sponsor that when I got in, other members were laughing at him,” Xu said. “They were like, ‘Oh, she must have given you a blow job in order to get in.’”
Still, both she and van Hoogstratten admitted that being in the HFPA opened many doors in Hollywood that had been closed to them as foreigners — and came with perks like dinners and parties with A-list stars and private screenings in luxurious theaters.
“I felt very lucky to get in the first time I applied back in 2015,” said van Hoogstratten. “The access was incredible. As an HFPA number, you suddenly seem to rise into the upper division of Hollywood: Everybody wanted to talk to you, everybody wanted to wine and dine you — and it was great for my career back in the Netherlands.”
The access, Xu said, was like “the Hollywood dream.”
“I’ve never used the word ‘bribing’ — I’d call it gifting,” said Xu of the swag HPFA members got from stars and studios starting every October. “Dozens of all kinds of gifts came to your door. The screenings would be held in such luxury, sometimes with cocktails, and sometimes the talent would come and you could get selfies. The [HFPA] members were treated in such an exclusive way that they felt as important as the celebs.”
But at the same time, members — the older ones especially, van Hoogtstratten and Xu said — became so arrogant that they didn’t even try to hide their bad behavior.
“I’ve been in a room with with elderly members calling each other ‘b—h’ and saying ‘shut the f–k up,’” van Hoogstratten said. “And this is sometimes in front of talent. [Actors] see people pushing each other out of the way fighting for the best seat in the house, pushing each other to make sure you get to the buffet. It’s not a dysfunctional family — it’s worse than that. It’s like a dysfunctional high school.”
In response, an HFPA spokesperson told The Post: “Nothing will shift our focus away from the best of Hollywood being recognized and the worthy non-profit organizations being highlighted on Sunday … what is true is the commitment of the HFPA to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to diversity, lifting up and emphasizing the strength of the women now leading our organization and the vital role our new diverse members are playing in voting on the 79th Annual Golden Globes.”
Even top movie and TV stars witnessed chaos and incivility among HFPA members, van Hoogstraten said. But they usually turned a blind eye because of the fame and professional luster that came with winning a Golden Globe, at least when the awards were televised.
“It might’ve been ridiculous, but it was true: The Globes did set the tone for awards season. Movies were pushed to the front of the line and TV shows were renewed based on Globes nominations and awards,” van Hoogstratten said. “Given that level of influence, the industry should’ve insisted on a minimum of professional behavior long before the scandal broke in early 2021.”
When Xu and van Hoogstratten resigned in June, they wrote a letter to the HFPA explaining why.
“Insulation, silence, fear or retribution, self-dealing, corruption and verbal abuse are just a few ways to describe that culture,” van Hoogstraten and Xu wrote. “The HFPA continues to accommodate a toxic environment that undermines professional journalism. The bullying of members by fellow members is left unquestioned and unpunished. The badgering of talent and publicists: ditto.”
Members called the two “rats” and “a cancer” and said “good riddance” in internal emails afterwards, van Hoogstratten said.
“The reason it all matters — the lack of professionalism, the corruption and self dealing, the complete lack of transparency, the sexism, the missing self-awareness — is that the HFPA exerted an inordinate amount of influence in Hollywood,” he said.
Xu and van Hoogstratten now belong to the 500-member Critics Choice Association, the largest film critics group in North America.
Asked if they would consider re-joining the HFPA in the future, both said they were skeptical that the association can change.
“They would have to start to behave like professional association [because] it just isn’t,” van Hoogstratten said. “Anybody who tells you differently is either lying or just hoping that the Globes will come back.”
Furthermore, he said, the association would have to become “really transparent [and] open up the books.
“They would have to give most of their money to philanthropy, as would befit a nonprofit. Suggesting that it is really a philanthropic institution [means] you would need new, different members in leadership right. The leadership now consists of people who have been around for many, many years who have not been able to take this criticism to heart.”