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The Golden Globes scandal: What integrity?

Posted by Ty Burr  January 16, 2011 05:44 PM

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Words you won't hear in the next few hours: And the Golden Globe for best performance by a corrupt, irrelevant film industry body goes to... the Golden Globes!

That's how disgruntled ex-GG publicist Michael Russell tells it in the lawsuit he slapped his former bosses with on Friday, accusing the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its president Philip Berk of taking kickbacks, selling media favors, "despicable conduct," and generally behaving like a five-dollar hooker when it comes to studios who need nominations for their less than wonderful year-end movies.

Yes, apparently there's a reason that "Burlesque" and "The Tourist," both violently bad films, received multiple nods beyond the accepted need to stock the Globes telecast with stars. Yet is anyone actually surprised to hear the HFPA might have an ethics problem? Has anyone ever taken this awards show seriously as an arbiter of merit? Of course not; we tune in for the gowns and glitz and drunken speechifying -- for the party we feel we're vicariously sharing in. The news that the whole thing might be a legal con is almost anticlimactic given that everyone already considers the Globes a cultural con -- a successful attempt by a small group of "foreign press" to upstage the august Oscars with a better show and cheesier awards. Still, the accusations have to sting, coming as they do on the eve of the ceremonies. Enjoy Ricky Gervais' dithery one-liners and the usual air of smug Hollywood self-congratulation tonight, but bear in mind George C. Scott's description of movie awards shows -- he called them "meat parades" -- and understand we've been granted a rare glimpse of how the meat gets bought and sold.

By the way -- "despicable conduct"? I thought they promoted people for that in the entertainment industry.

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.

Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

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