The long-brewing scandal around the Hollywood Foreign Press Association took a sudden, dramatic turn Monday, when NBC stunned with the announcement that the network will not air the 2022 Golden Globes Awards — a right for which NBC pays $60 million per year.
The network said the rate of change the HFPA board has proposed in light of criticism over the organization's lack of diversity — not one Black member among its 87 members — and over its questionable standards, was not fast enough to warrant a show next year.
"Change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right," the network statement said. "As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes."
Now the show is canceled, the HFPA is reeling and Tom Cruise literally returned his three Golden Globe awards to the Los Angeles HFPA headquarters as a sign of protest.
What just happened? We answer the big questions.
What pushed the Golden Globes situation over the edge?
The Golden Globes has long been the source of criticism and jokes, even by its own hosts. But this year's turmoil boiled into a Globes disaster after a February Los Angeles Times investigation revealed that the HFPA's secretive voting group did not include one Black member. Further Times revelations included some members taking a Paris hotel stay paid for by the creators of "Emily in Paris" prior to the critically-mixed Netflix show shocking with two Globe nominations.
The HFPA board vowed change amid mounting criticism, and on May 3 laid out a broad reform plan – to admit 20 new members in 2021, with a "specific focus" on recruiting Black members – and a stated goal of increasing the membership by 50% in the next 18 months. The board, which did not give a direct timetable for the group to implement the changes in a letter to members, revealed plans to "review structure of press travel" and "no longer accept promotional items."
NBC initially expressed support for the moves, but cracks started to emerge and quickly widen. Time's Up called the reform plans "window dressing platitudes" and a group of 100 key Hollywood public relations firms insisted the changes did not go far enough. Scarlett Johansson called for fellow stars to "step back" from the "sexist" HFPA, celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo concurred.
On Friday, powerhouse streamer studio Netflix threatened to boycott the Globes until "meaningful changes" were made. So too followed Amazon Studios, HBO and parent company WarnerMedia, which said they would not actively participate in the Globes Monday – just before NBC called off the 2022 show.
Did Tom Cruise really return his Golden Globe trophies to the HFPA?
The "Mission: Impossible" star had his three Golden Globe trophies returned to the HFPA headquarters Monday, a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly tells USA TODAY. That's two best actor Globes ("Jerry Maguire" and "Born on the Fourth of July") and one best supporting actor award ("Magnolia"). It was a power move for the hugely influential Hollywood player, says Clayton Davis, awards editor for Variety.
"From everything that happened today, Tom Cruise’s actions were the most meaningful," says Davis. "It's so telling that Tom Cruise, who has no Oscar, no SAG Award and no BAFTA Award, decided his three Golden Globes needed a return label. It's so important because it can’t be just Blacks and Latinos speaking out about what’s happening in Hollywood."
Davis believes other stars might follow suit and return their Globes. "I think they want to see how loud this gets," he says.
Will there be a Golden Globes in 2022?
The HFPA followed NBC's announcement with a detailed timetable for change and a statement: "Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly – and as thoughtfully – as possible remains the top priority for our organization."
While the HFPA has not commented specifically, don't count on an untelevised Golden Globes ceremony in 2022, or another network picking up the radioactive awards program.
Chris Beachum, managing editor for the awards website GoldDerby.com, predicts programs such as the Critics Choice Awards and the SAG Awards could grab the kick-off awards spot which the Globes has enjoyed in past years.
"Something needs to open awards season," says Beachum. "I can see one of these shows seizing the opportunity and seeing if it sticks."
Is it RIP for the HFPA?
The longtime controversial group has taken its biggest hit to date that will require major structural changes. But if these changes are brought to fore, the tarnished Globes could resume their place in the Hollywood awards structure.
As the NBC statement said, "Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023."
Davis believes the HFPA will need a complete overhaul and will have to work in complete transparency before the group earns the trust of the Hollywood community. However, the awards show has been a consistently popular, influential show for NBC.
"Whether people want to admit or not, the Golden Globes has a direct effect on the entire awards season. Even the Oscars need the Golden Globes to make people start caring about the award movies," says Davis. "And money is a driving factor for NBC."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Golden Globes: NBC drops show, Tom Cruise returns trophies, what next?