Some members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association are upset that NBC has turned its Golden Globes press conference into what some are labelling as "an 'Access Hollywood' PR stunt," according to a source close to the group.
When word leaked out early Wednesday that NBC wanted "Access" hosts Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell to host the one-hour special Sunday night, a top Golden Globe consultant told me, "The HFPA will never permit it!"
Only reluctantly did HFPA agree earlier this week to NBC's plan for a televised press conference to announce winners in place of its usual awards banquet proceeding without TV coverage. In both cases, HFPA loses the $5 million fee it normally gets from NBC to telecast the dinner ceremony. Many members wanted the usual gala to proceed so that it would send the message that HFPA cares less about its TV show than gathering the titans of Hollywood together in order to reward their best film and TV work of the year. But NBC had reportedly pre-sold more than $20 million in advertising and pressured HFPA to accept some form of substitute program.
It is believed that HFPA leaders caved under network pressure only when assured that the TV show would be a serious press conference produced by NBC's news division. They never thought they'd get stuck with "a puff show" with Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell, says a source. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has enough trouble being taken seriously by some media observers who criticize the freelance status of many members. It's doubtful that the group would've agreed to this plan if NBC had been clear up front, is the sentiment I understand is now coming from the HFPA camp.
"The show isn't a real press conference," a veteran TV producer tells me. "It doesn't look like [the] journalists present will be able to ask questions of Golden Globe officials. They'll be there as captives to watch Billy and Nancy read off nominees and winners in 25 award categories."
When the Globes hold press conferences to announce nominees every year, live TV footage is made available to all news organizations via a pool feed. Reportedly, and at the time of this writing, NBC will insist upon exclusivity during Sunday's one-hour telecast and all TV and video outlets will be prohibited from airing anything — even news reports about winners that don't show the alleged press conference in a camera shot — if credentialed to be at the Beverly Hilton.
UPDATE (Jan. 10, 1:30 p.m. PT): Leaders of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association appear to be regaining control of Sunday's Golden Globe press conference TV show as discussions continue with NBC execs. A source close to the negotiations reports that the network may limit the involvement of "Access Hollywood" hosts Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell so that the program doesn't appear to be an "Access" spinoff and permit HFPA president Jorge Camara and other HPFA members to announce nominees and winners in many top categories. Also, NBC may approve HFPA's request to involve other NBC entertainment reporters besides Bush and O'Dell. Also under discussion is loosening some aspects of NBC's demand for news exclusivity and the possibility that the one-hour telecast may include no TV commercial advertisements, but no final decisions have yet been made as private talks progress.