The 2021 Golden Globes were an awkward affair, and not just because the award show was held two months late due to the coronavirus pandemic. But weird jokes and Zoom technical difficulties have nothing to do with the reason why NBC won't air the Golden Globes in 2022. There's a lot more to unpack behind the scenes.
Let's go back to when the current controversy began: In February 2021, about a week prior to the 2021 event, the Los Angeles Times broke the story of an alleged corruption scandal within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the 87-member governing body that votes on the Golden Globes every year. The report explored a 2020 antitrust lawsuit in which a journalist claimed HFPA had a “culture of corruption” and accused members of collecting “thousands of dollars in emoluments” from studios, networks, and artists who received Golden Globe awards. (A federal judge dismissed the suit, siding with HFPA, in November.)
Also troubling, the Times' investigation revealed that there were reportedly no Black voters among HFPA's membership. When asked about this in a February interview with Variety, former HFPA president and board chair Meher Tatna confirmed there hadn't been a Black member in two decades. (Meanwhile, spokesperson for HFPA responded to inquiries by pointing out all ethnic and cultural backgrounds "based in Southern California who write for international media" were eligible to apply.) This all kicked off a storm of controversy, with groups like #TimesUp and former Globe winners like This Is Us' Sterling K. Brown admonishing the governing body for its lack of representation.
The Globes had been criticized before, but the 2021 controversy seemed to mark a change. On the night of the ceremony, hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler called the show out directly in their opening monologue for nominating "flashy garbage," overlooking Black actors and Black-led projects, and not having Black members among its ranks. Then, midway through the show, several HPFA members took the stage in an awkward set of speeches vowing to do better.
About a week after the event, HFPA unveiled the first plans for changes going forward, which included such things as hiring an expert on organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion and performing an audit of the group's bylaws and membership requirements. But at every turn, more controversies arose, including the former eight-term president of HFPA, Philip Berk, emailing out a racist article to the membership accusing Black Lives Matter of starting a race war. When the email became public, HFPA responded with a statement saying "the views expressed in the article circulated by Mr. Berk are those of the author of the article and do not — in any way shape or form — reflect the views and values of the HFPA." NBC also put out a statement that it "strongly condemned" his actions. Soon after, Berk was expelled from the membership. According to the L.A. Times, Berk responded to criticism of his email saying, “I only intended to illustrate the hypocricy [sic] that engulfs us[.] I forwarded it as a point of information[.] I had no hidden agenda [and] I now regret having sent it.”
On May 6, HFPA's membership voted overwhelmingly for reforms to the HFPA board and bylaws. However, production studios like Netflix declared these moves will not go far enough, or on a fast enough timeline, to make meaningful changes before the 2022 award season begins. Netflix's co-CEO, Ted Sarandos, announced on May 7 that Netflix would cut ties with HFPA until further notice, meaning Netflix would not submit any of its movies or TV series for consideration for the 2022 ceremony, and perhaps beyond. Considering Netflix has been a Globes critical darling, with 42 nominations and six wins in 2021 alone, the company's absence represents a significant loss.
This was just the first of a cascade of entities refraining from participating in next year's ceremony until further notice, including HBO and Amazon. Actors also individually joined in expressing disappointment and encouraging companies to refrain from working with HFPA, including Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo, while three-time winner Tom Cruise returned his trophies in protest.
By the afternoon of May 10, NBC pulled the plug on the 2022 ceremony. The network released the following statement:
We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right. As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes. Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.
A few hours after NBC's decision, HFPA issued a statement in response, in which it laid out a timeline for reforms that would be complete by the beginning of August, with new membership ready in time for next year's awards season. It reads in part:
Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly — and as thoughtfully — as possible remains the top priority for our organization. We invite our partners in the industry to the table to work with us on the systemic reform that is long overdue, both in our organization as well as within the industry at large.
It remains to be seen whether HFPA's new timeline will be enough to get the Globes back on track for next year, either at NBC or another network.