EXCLUSIVE The Golden Globes are already in the middle of a lot of chaos. NBC has been cancelled their 2022 show and the Hollywood Foreign Press (HFPA) is under fire for not having any Black members and for its entire financial stand. Some of the 87 members are resisting changes even though the group voted last week for sweeping reforms that still haven’t been implemented.
So it’s eye opening to see the settlement demand from Kjersti Flaa, the Norwegian journalist who last year sued the HFPA after her membership application was denied. Flaa’s case was dismissed not once but twice, but she vowed to file an appeal.
This week, seizing on the moment of the HFPA being in trouble publicly, Flaa’s attorney, David Quinto, who once counted among his clients the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, sent an email to the HFPA’s lawyer this week demanding a settlement of $1.6 million and membership in the group.
This column has obtained the exchange of emails exclusively.
Quinto wrote to the HFPA’s lawyers at Latham & Watkins LLP on May 10th: “I’m writing to ask whether the HFPA is finally willing to discuss a potential settlement of my clients’ claims. One would think that the HFPA does not now want the distraction and expense of continuing to litigate.”
One of the HFPA’s lawyers, Marvin Putnam, shot back an email immediately in an effort to end a case they’d essentially already won, twice: “I am more than happy to convey to my clients any good faith proposal you might present.”
On May 11th, Quinto issued his settlement demand in a new email:
“Admission of both Kjersti Flaa and Rosa Gamazo Robbins this summer, payment of $1.6mm to Kjersti (payable in equal quarterly installments over three years with interest only to the extent that inflation exceeds 4% annually), payment of $700K to Rosa (again, payable in equal quarterly installments over three years with interest only to the extent that inflation exceeds 4% annually), and payment of $200K in attorney’s fees (also payable in equal quarterly amounts paid over three years with interest only to the extent that inflation exceeds 4% per annum), a mutual (including Magnus Sundholm*) waiver and dismissal of all claims, whether known, unknown, or fraudulently concealed, a mutual non-disparagement provision, and the HFPA’s agreement not to retaliate against anyone suspected either of providing assistance to me or to the L.A. Times.“
Robbins’ name had been added to an amended complaint from Quinto that was dismissed in March 2021. The first case was dismissed last November. After the second ruling by the judge to dismiss — leaving no room for further amendment– Flaa said in a statement that she would appeal the rulings. She told Variety in an email: “It’s disappointing that the district judge didn’t see anything wrong with the HFPA’s conduct when the rest of America does,” she said. “We will of course appeal and are confident that the trial courts dismissal will be reversed and that we will finally get our day in court. In the meantime we fear that the HFPA will not make good on its recent promises to reform its bylaws and conduct to become more inclusive, transparent and representative of foreign entertainment reporters.” (*Sundholm, a photographer and member of the HFPA, is Flaa’s boyfriend. She is his lone featured follower on Instagram. He backed her in her efforts to gain membership.)
Flaa’s seemingly outrageous demand for $1.6 million certainly comes off as greedy and having nothing to do with inclusivity, transparency, or representation. She and Quinto don’t seem to get the current issues with the HFPA, the lack of Black journalists. She just wants money. When Flaa originally sued the HFPA, late president Lorenzo Soria responded that her lawsuit was merely a “shakedown.” This exchange of emails would seem to prove him right.
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