Behind NBC’s determination to place Golden Globes on ice for a 12 months

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All through the scandal swirling across the Golden Globe Awards present, longtime broadcaster NBC appeared flat-footed — seemingly unprepared to sort out the disaster that was consuming considered one of its largest dwell TV occasions.

Since late February, the Hollywood Overseas Press Assn., the group that owns the profitable Golden Globes franchise, has been on the middle of a furor over alleged moral lapses, self-dealing and an absence of Black members — revelations that surfaced in a Los Angeles Instances investigation.

NBC, which has broadcast the Golden Globe Awards present yearly since 1996, was sluggish to acknowledge the depth of the extremely charged environment over race and variety and the extent of frustration that existed amongst producers and publicists who had chafed for years beneath the calls for of the free-wheeling group of 86 overseas journalists who vote on the Golden Globes. NBC additionally was surprised by the pace during which Hollywood turned on an awards present it had lengthy embraced.

The Instances’ report prompted a lot debate inside NBC over its function and the way forward for the Golden Globes, in accordance with interviews with a number of educated insiders. NBC executives mentioned they took the considerations critically, however felt hamstrung by their profitable enterprise entanglements.

Though NBC declined to remark for this story, a number of firm executives now privately acknowledge they made a number of public relations miscalculations.

As a substitute of taking a management function, the venerable broadcaster’s hand finally was compelled by outstanding producers Shonda Rhimes and Ava DuVernay, A-list actors Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson, the Time’s Up group, a coalition of publicists and rival streaming giants Netflix and Amazon Studios.

Going through an embarrassing boycott of subsequent 12 months’s awards present by a lot of the business, NBC introduced Monday that it was pulling the plug on the 2022 Golden Globes telecast to present the HFPA, which was fashioned in 1943, time to hold out a collection of deliberate reforms.

“NBC ought to have been main the cost to demand reform and enchancment,” mentioned Shawna Kidman, a communication professor at UC San Diego. “However NBC misplaced the narrative. They allowed these new firms, like Netflix and Amazon, to return in and take a stand for range and alter and it appeared just like the outdated media firms, like NBC, didn’t care about range and alter — even when that’s not true.”

NBC’s stance was difficult by a number of elements, chief amongst them the eight-year, $500-million TV rights deal for the Golden Globe Awards that NBC signed in 2018, in accordance with the educated insiders. NBC’s contractual association will not be with the HFPA — though the group’s operations are financed by the rights charges from NBC.

As a substitute, the TV community’s relationship is with Dick Clark Productions, which produces the annual awards present on behalf of the HFPA. Dick Clark Productions has a vested monetary curiosity as a result of it reaps roughly half of the greater than $60-million annual license payment that NBC is obligated to pay by way of the 2026 awards present. Dick Clark Productions is owned by the highly effective impartial TV and movie studio MRC (Media Rights Capital), which additionally produces Netflix’s “Ozark” and dwell reveals akin to “Dick Clark’s New 12 months’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest.”

NBC executives and their legal professionals shortly determined they didn’t wish to come throughout as heavy-handed with longtime enterprise companions, insiders mentioned. Additionally they realized that for change to return about, the community wanted to work alongside Dick Clark Productions/MRC and the HFPA.

Early on, a call was made for NBC to remain mum and work collaboratively behind the scenes. However by saying nothing in regards to the controversy, NBC regarded frozen as considered one of its marquee property was falling aside.

Some executives inside NBC wished to seek out methods to protect the favored awards present, which has lengthy been a platform to showcase NBC’s stars, together with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, together with the remainder of the Hollywood glitterati.

However inside NBCUniversal there was appreciable debate amongst senior executives about whether or not the Golden Globes can be salvaged.

Even earlier than this 12 months, the community was annoyed by the contract it signed in 2018. Since then, NBC administration has modified and a brand new group of executives — led by NBCUniversal Chief Govt Jeff Shell and a troika of TV lieutenants — is in cost. None of these executives had been concerned in negotiating the 2018 deal, which got here with an enormous improve in charges.

Within the prior deal, NBC paid about $25 million a 12 months for the TV rights for the Golden Globes — and the present was vastly worthwhile.

Not any longer. The present has turn out to be a money-loser for NBC.

Earlier this 12 months, NBC demanded a roughly $20 million rebate on the license payment that it paid this 12 months, in accordance with two individuals aware of the scenario. Due to the pandemic, the Feb. 28 broadcast became a T-shirt and Zoom affair slightly than a boozy celebration within the star-studded ballroom of the Beverly Hilton — a spectacle that has lengthy delighted TV viewers.

As anticipated, scores plummeted greater than 60% in comparison with the 2020 awards present. In accordance with Nielsen, about 7 million viewers tuned in to the 78th Golden Globe Awards telecast, an all-time low for NBC, versus 18.4 million final 12 months.

In early March, every week after the present, Time’s Up representatives met with NBC to demand reforms to the HFPA.

“We emphasised to them what we thought was the depth of the issues and the significance of the urgency,” Time’s Up President and CEO Tina Tchen mentioned this week. (The HFPA declined to fulfill with Time’s Up.)

By mid-March, NBCUniversal Govt Vice President and Chief Variety Officer Craig Robinson responded to the mounting criticism, saying, “Our perceived silence on this shouldn’t be equated with apathy or an absence of concern.”

Rival TV executives privately acknowledge that NBC executives had been in a clumsy spot. The community couldn’t lash out at long-term companions, significantly as a result of the HFPA’s foibles had been documented for years. Certainly, in 2010, NBC’s sitcom “30 Rock,” created by Fey, had a storyline that revolved round attempting to bribe HFPA members.

In some ways, NBC’s arms had been tied. There was no so-called “morals clause” within the contract that will allow NBC to bail earlier than the settlement expires in 2026, in accordance with two executives aware of the settlement however not licensed to remark. Such clauses are usually utilized in contracts with people, not teams akin to Dick Clark Productions or the HFPA.

“There’s been no dialogue of transferring [the show] from NBC,” mentioned an govt at Dick Clark Productions who was not licensed to remark publicly. “They’ve been nice companions and we’re all pushing for the reforms. All of us wish to see that.”

In the meantime, NBC executives additionally had been smarting over what they seen as hypocrisy by publicists, studios and streaming providers who had lengthy tolerated and coddled the HFPA solely to specific outrage on the group’s practices. Publicists have countered that they’ve lengthy warned their shoppers about HFPA members’ conduct throughout press conferences and that their complaints to the group’s president had been ignored.

Kidman, the professor, mentioned it was comprehensible that NBC felt burned.

“Everybody knew there have been issues with this group however but they supported it for years and years, as a result of their relationships with the Golden Globes had been mutually useful,” Kidman mentioned. “Then, impulsively, Netflix and Warner Bros. and others started pretending that they obtained a conscience.”

NBC should be held to a better normal, Time’s Up Tchen mentioned, as a result of with out NBC there can be no Golden Globes.

“Look, the HFPA is sort of a personal membership. … besides [for] the platform that NBC provides to the Golden Globes,” Tchen mentioned. “It has turn out to be an establishment that judges the remainder of Hollywood.” Additional, she added, “NBC is the entity that’s giving them the platform, that’s giving them the cash, that’s giving them the published platform to have that oversized impression on not simply Hollywood however on our broader American tradition.”

For weeks, NBC inspired the HFPA to draft an inventory of reforms, which the group submitted final week. NBC launched an announcement a day later, saying: “We consider that the plan offered charts a course for significant reform on the HFPA.”

NBC was blindsided by Hollywood’s overwhelmingly unfavourable response. Time’s Up blasted the plan, labeling it “sorely missing and hardly transformational.” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos weighed in, saying the streaming large would boycott the HFPA and Golden Globes till the group got here up with a plan to “sort out the HFPA’s systemic range and inclusion challenges [and implement] clear requirements for the way your members ought to function.”

As soon as once more, NBC appeared out of step with business progressives. “We regarded mealy-mouthed,” one NBC insider mentioned candidly.

On Monday, NBC mentioned it was abandoning the present for one 12 months. However the actuality was that with out the publicists, Netflix, Amazon and HBO, which had all mentioned they might boycott, there was little probability of placing on a present.

“Change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we really feel strongly that the HFPA wants time to do it proper,” NBC mentioned. “We’re hopeful we will likely be ready to air the present in January 2023.”

Nevertheless it’s unclear whether or not the Golden Globe Awards present will come again after its one-year hiatus.

Apart from waning viewership of awards reveals, one other sore level is that applications that air on the published networks — NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox — have been profitable fewer awards. In some circumstances, award reveals have turn out to be a three-hour industrial for HBO, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

“Stars are a lot much less vital than they had been just some years in the past,” Kidman mentioned. “With out these awards reveals, they’ll turn out to be even much less vital.”

Employees author Josh Rottenberg contributed to this report.

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