Entertainment: HFPA Votes to Sell Golden Globes to Interim CEO Todd Boehly and Shed Non-Profit Status

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The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has shed its non-profit status and agreed to sell the Golden Globes to acting CEO Todd Boehly's Eldridge Industries and turn the embattled organization into a private venture, the HFPA announced Thursday.

Golden Globes nominations 2021 © Provided by TheWrap Golden Globes nominations 2021

The sale's proposal from Eldridge Industries LLC, which is founded and chaired by the billionaire Boehly, creates a private entity to manage its Golden Globes assets, according to the announcement, while its charitable and philanthropic programs will be preserved in a separate non-profit entity. The plan also shifts all rights for the Golden Globes intellectual property to the company and empowers it to oversee the professionalization and modernization of the Golden Globe Awards.

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TheWrap last November reported exclusively of Boehly's intention to make the Globes a for-profit organization, though the plan was denied at the time.

Terms of the vote were not disclosed, but a source told TheWrap that 76 members voted yes and 18 members voted against of just more than 100 members of the HFPA.

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The fate of the 2023 Golden Globes remains unclear, as the HFPA is undergoing reforms after a Los Angeles Times exposé found that the organization had no Black members, leading to a boycott of the Golden Globes among Hollywood publicists that has shown few signs of being lifted. The awards show was also not televised this year.

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"This is a historic moment for the HFPA and the Golden Globes," Helen Hoehne, president of the HFPA, said in a statement. "We have taken a decisive step forward to transform ourselves and adapt to this increasingly competitive economic landscape for both award shows and the journalism marketplace. Our Special Committee and team of legal and financial advisors did an incredible amount of work in reviewing, analyzing, and comparing the options presented to us. We are excited to move forward with a mandate to ensure we continue our support for increasing diversity in all areas and maintaining our life-changing charitable and philanthropic efforts."

The transition will include the development of staff and an executive team to lead the new organization, and the HFPA confirmed prior plans to add dditional Golden Globes voters, whom TheWrap has previously reported would not become full members of the HFPA.

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Boehly was not part of the review, recommendation or approval process, according to the HFPA. It adds that in recent months, the HFPA's financial adviser, Houlihan Lokey, yielded several submitted proposals from a number of companies and investment groups. Each proposal was reviewed and analyzed by the HFPA's Special Committee, alongside its legal adviser, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

The committee was composed exclusively of the three outside independent members of the HFPA's board: Sharlette Hambrick, Jeff Harris and Dr. Joanna Massey.

"This review process was comprehensive, deliberate and thoughtful to ensure fairness and accuracy," Hoehne added. "Per our bylaws, the decision ultimately rested with our membership, who voted on the proposal. As we look forward to celebrating our 80th anniversary event in January 2023, we are incredibly excited about this new era for our Association."

However the decision to sell ownership to Boehly has been met with scrutiny by experts who had previously spoken with TheWrap, and Cheryl Boone Isaacs, whose organization had offered its own proposal to the HFPA, had accused the group of a "not equitable" process to change its ownership. Further, four attorneys with expertise in nonprofits recently told TheWrap that a for-profit structure would increase, not decrease, the lack of transparency that has bedeviled the HFPA in recent years and led to a boycott by Hollywood publicists, studios and networks. As a nonprofit, the HFPA has been required to file annual public financial statements detailing all revenues and payouts, including salaries and charitable contributions.

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A for-profit company would be "playing by different rules," arts and entertainment attorney Jan Breslauer told TheWrap. "If you become a private corporation for profit, you're no longer going to be showing everybody your finances every year."

Experts have also questioned the ethics of having Globes voters participate in the profits of the awards show -- a key element of Boehly's initial proposal -- as well as his plan to recruit new voters for the annual Globes who would not be full-fledged members or share in any profits from the for-profit venture.

Others raised red flags about Boehly's involvement in making decisions about selling HFPA assets to a company he would then own. And Boehly also has ownership of MRC, which produces award-winning TV shows like "Ozark" and "The Great" as well as the Golden Globe Awards telecast -- and shares the $60 million annual licensing fee paid by NBC to air the awards show.

The billionaire's involvement "raises conflicts all over the place," one veteran California attorney in the nonprofit field told TheWrap. "To be engaged on behalf of proposing this because he's really also on the other side, that's where this all feels like it's totally inappropriate."

The HFPA does not intend to comment further until it determines that additional disclosure is appropriate or necessary.

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