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Hollywood Foreign Press Association Sued!

Filed under: Legal MattersAwardz

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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.

Yikes!

[Image via WENN.]

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Golden Globes DRA-MA!!

Filed under: Awardz

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With just a couple of days away until the Golden Globe nominations are announced, major drama seems to be happening behind the scenes of the famous awards show.

PR chief Michael Russell has accused the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) of "unsavory business practices."

Without giving actual details, Russell wrote a letter to the organization's president Philip Berk claiming that he was fired and took issue with the HFPA's "questionable business practices."

He also stated that if these concerns weren't address by 2011's telecast, they would conflict with the "legitimacy and integrity" of the organization.

In a letter Russell wrote to Berk earlier this year (just before his firing), Russell demanded an apology and added:

"Of all people, you know how hard we had to work especially since there was frequent drama as you clashed needlessly and repeatedly with HFPA members, (Globes producer Dick Clark Productions), NBC, Chrysler, and members of the media.

This is the fifth year I have handled PR for the HFPA and Golden Globes with you as president, and this year was by far the worst as your conduct climbed to a new outrageous level."

Also in the letter, Russell alleged that Berk went back on a promise to give him 15% commission after the Michael Russell Group brokered a $100,000 Globes sponsorship deal with Glaceau Smart Water.

Wowsa.

So much dramz! Let's hope the Hollywood Foreign Press Association can get their shiz together before next month's Golden Globes telecast!

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