With the Golden Globes on Sunday, the timing could not be any worse!
A lawsuit was filed on Thursday against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association by Stephen Locascio, Cinepoint Prods and the Michael Russell Group for $2 million plus punitive damages.
Michael Russell, who was the lead publicist for the Golden Globes for 17 years, claims that they terminated his contract to rep the show after he asked the HFPA not to accept "payola" in association with the award show.
The lawsuit claims that members of the HFPA engaged in "unethical and potentially unlawful deals" including accepting lavish vacations, junket lodging, gifts and other perks provided by studios in exchange for ensuring a nomination.
The suit reads:
"Such policies and practices allow members to illegally profit from their association in the nonprofit corporation and violate federal communications law prohibiting hidden 'payola' schemes. Most of HFPA's members are not full-time journalists and rely on income generated from these questionable practices each year."
"[HFPA president Philip Berk] expressly acknowledged to Russell that these activities were problematic and the HFPA was a corrupt organization, that its members are only out to use the organization to generate income for themselves and that many conflicts of interest exist with regard to the above-specified activities of the HFPA and its members,"
Other allegations include selling media credentials for profit and accepting payment from studios and producers for lobbying films. The lawsuit also includes claims for breach of contract, interference with contract, fraud, defamation and violations of California's business and professions code.
[Image via WENN.]