Former Golden Globes president Phil Berk, still with the Hollywood Foreign Press after decades, has just published a book that shows all the petty bickering and backstabbing, the focus on money, and the lack of interest in anything other than celebrity and power– certainly not movies– that make the Golden Globes such a joke.
In the book, called “With Signs and Wonders,” Berk mocks most actors who aren’t still superstars or working regularly. He mentions Globes scandals but makes no comment about them.
His worst and most telling bit comes when he describes hearing about the suicide of fellow HFPA member Nick Douglas: “I was awoken by a call from John Hiscock informing me that a member, Nick Douglas, had committed suicide. I was in shock not just because Nick had taken his life but because he had once sent me an anonymous hate letter, and thus his death reinforced my belief that anyone who tries to harm me comes to an untimely end.”
Berk reiterates his theory after describing a scandal in which he was accused of grabbing the buttocks of actor Brendan Fraser during one of the Golden Globe members’ arduous (for the actors) get togethers with stars:
“Since that incident I have not been in the same room with Brendan Fraser, and ever since his career has been in decline. There’s that theory of mine again.”
Berk, a former school teacher for the Los Angeles suburbs, doesn’t say much about his qualifications for being a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press or even running it. If he loves film, he never says so. But he doesn’t like TV, that’s for sure. He goes on to malign several actors:
“Even though I’d always been a snob about movies as opposed to television — you may have noticed I’ve never once mentioned a Golden Globe TV winner — (overseas) newspapers and magazines had become far more interested in stories about TV personalities than movie stars; theatre attendance had dropped off, but there was an insatiable appetite for American TV. So I spent most of the year interviewing the likes of Mr.T. of The A-Team, Dan Travanti of Hill Street Blues, Eileen Brennan of Private Benjamin, Tyne Daly of Cagney and Lacey, Robert Blake of Baretta, Jamie Farr of M* A* S* H, Erin Grey of Silver Spoons, Joe Penny of Riptide, Philip Michael Thomas of Miami Vice, Donna Mills of Knots Landing, and Morgan Fairchild of Flamingo Road. Whatever happened to them?”
Nice huh? He makes the same swipes later at “Flashdance” singer Irene Cara, and actor Jason Patric.
And Berk reveals exactly what it takes to get a Golden Globe nomination. It has nothing to do with merit. To wit: “Nicole Kidman but not her costar Dustin Hoffman did an interview for Billy Bathgate, and it paid off. She was nominated; he was not.”
And what about all the tales of lavish travel for the 80 or so members who are still mobile? How about this? “We traveled to London for Harry Potter and Woody Allen (two different set visits) and to Rome for HBO’s Rome. My wife accompanied me on both trips. In London we were staying at the Dorchester where I requested my usual room. Keith Iddins the manager had other ideas insisting Ruth and I move to a different room. I was not happy about this until we were led into the sumptuous Suri Seri suite he had reserved for us. Three bedrooms, three living rooms, everything laid on; it was elegance beyond belief fit for a king.”
Is he the president of a film critics group or the Shah of Iran?
Berk’s book is worth reading if only for the incredible detail from a man full of hubris. He is vicious to his enemies, and — in crowing about successes within the HFPA– reveals way too much about members’ friendships with the studio execs whose movies they are supposed to be objective about. A crazy read, but incredibly informative!