Outrage at studio sway over Globe nominations

The Golden Globes, supposedly Hollywood's second-most prestigious awards event after the Oscars, is finding its often-criticised voting process at the centre of unwelcome controversy.

At issue is a decision by members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), organisers of the annual awards, to shortlist two recently released but highly-derided studio films - The Tourist and Burlesque - in the Best Motion Picture (musical or comedy) category for next month's event.

The move initially surprised pundits, since both films received unsympathetic reviews and hit cinemas to public apathy.

According to the aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, Burlesque got positive write-ups from only 38 per cent of critics, and The Tourist was panned by 79 per cent of reviewers. Neither made much of a splash in terms of box office receipts.

Disbelief later turned to mild outrage, however, after it emerged that Sony, the studio behind Burlesque, recently flew Golden Globes judges to Las Vegas for an all-expenses-paid trip which included luxury hotel accommodation, free meals and a private concert performed by the film's star, Cher.

The allegation is nothing new: throughout its history, the HFPA has been regarded as an organisation whose members are easily swayed by luxury goods and other treats.

In 1999, Sharon Stone presented each member with a gold watch days before they received voting forms. She was duly nominated for the Best Actress award.

In 1981, most famously of all, the unknown Pia Zadora won a Best Newcomer award for her role in Butterfly, a film which had been universally derided.

It later emerged that the movie's producer, who was also her husband, had flown the entire HFPA to Las Vegas for a weekend holiday immediately before they voted.

Part of the reason for criticism may be that, as a private organisation with only 81 members, the HFPA is beholden to no one and considered relatively easy to influence. To win a Globe, you need to charm only a few dozen voters. To win an Oscar, by contrast, you must lobby roughly 6000 members of the Academy.

- Independent

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