Seven members of the notoriously unprofessional Hollywood Foreign Press have credited roles in Sofia Coppola‘s new film, “Somewhere.”
Outrageous? You betcha. Who do you think the big celebrity was at last week’s HFPA/Golden Globes event at Cecconi’s restaurant to introduce the new Miss Golden Globes? Why, Sofia Coppola. She was the only A-lister and the only director.
The credited roles in “Somewhere” went to Silvia Bizio, of Italy; Noel de Souza, India; Lisa Lu, of China; Alexander Nevsky, of Russia; Aida Takla-O’Reilly, of Egypt; Emanuel Levy, of Israel; and H.J. Park, of Korea. In the movie, they are used to re-create one of their own idiotic press conferences. You don’t even see their faces, but they got name credit at the end of the film.
Nevsky isn’t even a journalist; according to his imdb.com bio, he’s a former Russian bodybuilder who changed his name to that of the famed Russian Prince of the 13th century. He actually gets to ask the movie’s fake movie star what his work out secrets are because he’s writing a book on celebrity exercise. Levy, who is one of the few real journalists on the HFPA, should know better.
Is it funny? No. The HFPA is held in low esteem by real journalists. I’ve written about them before. They’re mostly interested in getting their pictures taken with celebrities. One of them, Scott Orlin, is American but writes for a German publication. He’s a nice fellow, but he isn’t even ‘foreign.” Many members of the HFPA would be hard pressed to produce more than four articles that they’ve published each year.
But to appear in a studio release: unethical and laughable.
But the HFPA is empowered and enabled by money. NBC has been paying them $6 million a year to license the Golden Globe name. According to a recent lawsuit filed the HFPA against Dick Clark Productions, the group will be paid millions more in coming years.
The group has a fine time with the money. They boast in their 2009 Federal Tax Filing nearly $20 million in assets. And even though they’re supposed to be a not for profit organization, the inner circle does well. The president of the HFPA gets $72,000 a year; all the other officers are paid, as well. To offset this, the HFPA gives between $750,00 and $1 million a year to charity.
It’s unclear whether the seven members of the HFPA were paid for their roles in “Somewhere,” which will be released by Focus Features this month. But just their appearance in the film–which has surely been considered by them for awards to be announced tomorrow morning–reeks of impropriety. This is what separates the members of the HFPA from real journalists, a concept they surely don’t understand. A new film is not going where you’re going to find David Denby, Richard Schickel or Tony Scott.
(And yes, retired journalists, and those out of work, have appeared in films. The late Howard K. Smith was in Robert Altman’s “Nashville,” for example. Walter Cronkite once made a cameo on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”)
Last week veteran TV producer Peter Tolan called the HFPA “just a group of whores from other countries… I’m not prone to hyperbole, but the Foreign Press [Assn] really is a bunch of whores. They can be bought… It’s really an excuse to go out with people who don’t speak English that well and maybe win a trinket. [A Golden Globe] means shit. F— the Globes.”
This should give Ricky Gervais some good material when he hosts the Globes in January.