The Hollywood Foreign Press, armed with a $7 million a year licensing fee from NBC, have turned watching movies into an impressively big boondoggle. While critics groups from all over the country are able to evaluate the year’s best films basically for free, the HFPA spends and spends to come up with essentially the same results.
For example: according to the HFPA’s 2011 tax filing, they spent over $671,000 on travel that year. That’s despite the major movie studios flying them all over the world, putting them up at hotels, feeding and entertaining them. Not only that: in exchange for tickets to the Globes show,a studio publicist claims the main film festivals treat the members of the Globes to all kinds of perks. At the Toronto Film Festival, for example, there are the ever present cars with drivers, and signs on windshields that read “HFPA.”
The officers of the HFPA also get paid nice honorariums. In 2011, the six main officers divvied up around $200,000. The group claimed $21.3 million in net assets in 2011.
Of course, the HFPA has some painful expenses, too. A losing court fight with NBC and Dick Clark Productions in 2011 meant paying legal fees of $3.6 million to a top Hollywood law firm.
But all of their activities are tax fee. To keep their 501 (c) 3 status, the HFPA Foundation makes a pageant of donating more than a million dollars a year to various arts and film related charities. It’s not done quietly. The HFPA annually summons movie and TV stars to a big media-buzz lunch every summer to make this announcement–and get a chance as per their reputation for pictures of their members with the stars.
The group has some big, and odd, expenses too–over $96,000 a year to run its website, for example– not including a $44,000 salary to a board member listed as “I-T expert.” And around $620,000 in miscellaneous, non specified expenses.
And while the recent New York Times story made it seem like the HFPA was just a little group stuffed into a clubhouse in a bad neighborhood, the group is actually situated on N.Robertson Blvd in West Hollywood, a block or so from some of West Hollywood’s coolest movie industry restaurants like The Palm, Dan Tana’s, Craig’s, and Cecconi’s and some of the most coveted shopping in Los Angeles.