The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the federal district court’s earlier decision to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit brought by a Norwegian entertainment reporter against the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the organization behind the Golden Globe Awards.
In the summer of 2020, reporter Kjersti Flaa filed a lawsuit alleging that the HFPA, despite being a tax-exempt organization, operates like a private club and cartel, excludes qualified applicants who may compete with existing members and severely impacts their career opportunities.
Federal Judge Stanley Blumenfeld Jr. dismissed Flaa’s arguments, citing in part her work in the entertainment industry over the past several years, including recognition for her work with a quote from the 2018 SoCal Journalism Awards contest for a profile of Jane Fonda.
However, the judge allowed Flaa’s legal team to file an amended lawsuit to resolve its antitrust claims against the organization “in part because the allegations in the lawsuit are so vague and difficult to understand from an antitrust perspective.”
The amended lawsuit, which included Spanish journalist Rosa Gamazo Robbins, challenged the HFPA’s membership policies, alleging that it violated federal and state antitrust laws, California’s right to a fair trial and conflicted with organizations’ tax-exempt status.
However, the appeals court judges found no evidence to support claims that the HFPA’s licensing practices were anticompetitive or unlawful.
“We are grateful for the 9th Circuit Court’s decision to uphold the lower court’s earlier ruling dismissing these false claims,” HFPA President Helen Hoehne said in a statement. “As we focus on the upcoming Globes on behalf of the organization and members, we are happy to put this episode behind us.”
Flaa said she was disappointed with the court’s decision.
“I’m still glad I fought the good fight against corruption and I hope that good change will come with it,” Flaa said. “But I don’t have much hope for the HFPA or the Golden Globes.”
The decision comes days before the HFPA announces the nominations for the 80th Golden Globes.
The ceremony will air Jan. 10 on NBC and Peacock, for the first time since the network dropped the show in 2022.
Last year, NBC halted airing of the 2022 Globes, a contingent of powerful publicists boycotted the organization, and studios including Netflix and WarnerMedia severed ties after an investigation by the Los Angeles Times revealed questions about the group’s ethical and financial failings had that none of them was the case at the time 87 members was black.
Over the past 20 months, the HFPA has implemented various reforms, including the introduction of new bylaws, a ban on gifts and the hiring of a Chief Diversity Officer and adding 21 new members, six of whom are black.
It has also announced various partnerships, including with the NAACP and the World Bank.
In August, the association added 103 international non-members to its ranks, both expanding and diversifying the organization’s makeup.
The return to a live TV ceremony follows more than a year of chaos and uncertainty for the HFPA, which has faced scathing criticism of its operations and the conduct of its members.
The group has embarked on a series of reforms to salvage their once-star awards show and get back in Hollywood’s good graces.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-12-09/golden-globes-lawsuit-dismissal-ninth-circuit-of-appeals-flaa Dismissal of journalists’ case against Golden Globes is upheld