The Golden [Bri]bes?
Still trying to decide whether or not Ricky Gervais went “too far” in his performance as the host of the Golden Globes on Sunday? I mean, he introduced Bruce Willis as “Ashton Kutcher’s dad,” questioned the sexuality of famous Scientologist actors, and accused the Hollywood Foreign Press Association of accepting bribes in exchange for nominations for “The Tourist.”
Well, actually, as a recent lawsuit suggests, maybe there’s some truth to that last one.
Last Thursday, two former publicists for the Golden Globes, Michael Russell and Stephen Locascio, filed a $2 million lawsuit against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (“HFPA”) in which they allege that the organization’s members have extensively engaged in “payola,” accepting bribes in return for film promotion. Specifically, the former publicists claim that they have been defamed and wrongfully terminated, among many other charges, as a result of their resistance against the HFPA’s common practice of accepting money, vacations, gifts, and other perks in exchange for votes in nominating and awarding particular films.
No. Russell and Locascio’s allegation of a corrupt HFPA is not entirely out-of-the-blue. While the HFPA has historically had a poor reputation, a recent story may even further aid Russell and Locascio in their case. Just a few months ago, it was discovered that Sony, the studio behind the far from critically acclaimed “Burlesque,” flew various HFPA members to Las Vegas for an all-expenses-paid vacation that included a private concert by one of the film’s biggest stars, Cher. Like “the Tourist,” “Burlesque” later received a nomination for “Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy.”
Thus, while it is arguable that Ricky Gervais did go too far at times while hosting the Golden Globes, was it tasteless for him to suggest that a few bribes must have been accepted in order for a 20% rated film to receive three nominations? Probably not.
We’ll find out for sure through this case.