Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope on Scandal

The Golden Globes Are Such a Disaster That the Real-Life Olivia Pope Said No Thank You

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Just one week before this year’s Golden Globes ceremony, the Los Angeles Times published the results of an investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, revealing that the organization was as corrupt as it was meaningless. The HFPA has no Black members, sells out quickly for swag and access to celebrities, and “operated as a kind of cartel, barring qualified applicants … and monopolizing all-important press access while improperly subsidizing its members’ income.”

None of this is new news but this was the year that the public finally took notice. There were a lot of reasons for that but it can’t go unmentioned that one of the final straws seemed to be the snubbing of brilliant Black-led and created shows like I May Destroy You in favor of the egregiously terrible Emily in Paris, which just so happened to fly HFPA members to Paris for a luxury vacation.

Now Indiewire’s Kate Erbland has laid out an incredible timeline of events both leading up to this year’s ceremony and what has happened since—and it is a lot.

During the ceremony, HFPA members promised to commit to increasing diversity among its members. The following week, they released a statement saying that would happen within 60 days. That was about 45 days ago.

“So, the board is gonna oversee its own reform?” Ava DuVernay tweeted at the time. “Same board that oversees and benefits from the current practices and has knowingly perpetuated the HFPA’s corrupt dealings and racial inequity for decades? Got it.”

Shortly afterward, the organization announced it was hiring a diversity consultant and other advisors. The following week, Erbland writes that “A list of more than 100 global PR firms sign an open letter stating that without reform, the Globes can expect to lose access to their starry clients.” The HFPA promise to add a seemingly arbitrary 13 Black members.

However, barely a month later (and just this past weekend), Phillip Berk, an HFPA member and former eight-term president of the organization, sent an email to his fellow members, as well as staff and the org’s general counsel and COO, calling Black Lives Matter a “racist hate movement” and comparing BLM activists to Charles Manson because both, he said, wanted to “start a race war.”

Both Berk’s colleagues and NBC, which airs the Golden Globes, condemned his statements and also expelled him from the organization within just a few days of the email being sent.

That wasn’t enough, though, to keep the organization’s crisis management firm from peacing out. That firm’s founder, by the way, was the inspiration for and a producer on Scandal.

Erbland writes:

On Tuesday evening, The Hollywood Reporter reports the resignation of crisis communications firm Smith & Company, which HFPA hired in March. The Berk situation reportedly was “the last straw.” The company’s founder and CEO is Judy Smith, who is the inspiration for “Scandal” and its lead character, Olivia Pope. Smith spent five seasons as that show’s co-executive producer.

THR reports that Smith “grew increasingly frustrated by the organization’s refusal to listen to other advice and commit to concrete actions, ultimately concluding that its problems are so deep-rooted that it is a lost cause, which led her to quit Tuesday.”

When your organization is so far gone that Olivia Pope calls it quits on you, that’s a pretty good sign that it’s time to call it quits on yourself!

(via IndieWire, image: ABC)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.