The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Golden Globes return to TV two years after a scandal

Jerrod Carmichael. (Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty Images)
4 min

Comedian Jerrod Carmichael, who is hosting tonight’s 80th Golden Globe Awards, had an out-of-the-box idea to promote the ceremony’s return to TV after it fell from grace amid a scandal two years ago.

“I get ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin to yell at me and like spit in my face and tell me how awards shows are meaningless, and how he’s disappointed in me for doing this in the first place,” Carmichael recounted to Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” recently. “And they said, ‘No we don’t think that represents the brand of the Golden Globes.’”

But doesn’t it?

The Globes has been under a shadow since February 2021, when the Los Angeles Times reported that the nonprofit organization that conducts the ceremony, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, had no Black members and was rife with ethical and financial conflicts of interest.

The Globes quickly found itself ostracized in Hollywood, notwithstanding the film industry’s abiding love for award ceremonies and the publicity they generate. Some publicists called for a boycott. The king of the red carpet, Tom Cruise, returned his three awards. NBC, which had broadcast the ceremony for decades, said it wouldn’t air the ceremony until “meaningful reform” took place.

Two years — and one online ceremony — later, the Globes have returned to TV. But is this truly a comeback story? Did the gap years make a difference?

Several first-time winners took home trophies at the 80th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills on Jan. 10. The show returned to TV after a hiatus in 2022. (Video: Allie Caren/The Washington Post)

In response to criticism about the HFPA’s lack of diversity, the organization doubled its once-exclusive voting body to 200 people, who are now 52 percent female and 51.5 percent “racially and ethnically diverse.”

“We will continue to identify and recruit additional members and nonmember voters to expand, diversify and strengthen the Golden Globe Awards while maintaining its unique international flavor,” said Neil Phillips, the HFPA’s chief diversity officer — a role created in response to the controversy.

The Golden Globes seemed like they were done for. So why are they still happening?

The HFPA has canceled its infamous members-only news conferences — another major sticking point among Hollywood insiders who said questions asked were at times offensive. Additionally, members can no longer accept gifts and promotional materials from studios, actors or publicists.

Despite the behind-the-curtain adjustments, not every nominee will gleefully return to the Beverly Hills Hilton ballroom on Tuesday night.

Actor Brendan Fraser, whose performance in “The Whale” received a best-actor nod, previously told GQ magazine that if nominated he wouldn’t participate in the ceremony.

In 2018, Fraser accused Philip Berk, a former eight-term president of the HFPA, of groping him at a 2003 luncheon. Berk denied the incident but was ousted from the HFPA in 2021 after calling Black Lives Matter “a racist hate movement” in an email sent to the association’s members.

But otherwise, the ceremony appears to be shaping up like normal, for the most part. There will be a red carpet before the show. Oscars producer Jesse Collins, who won an Emmy for the 2022 Super Bowl halftime show, will serve as the ceremony’s showrunner. Comedian Eddie Murphy is receiving the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award. The list of celebrity presenters is just as long as it once was, including Ana de Armas, Jenna Ortega, Billy Porter and Quentin Tarantino. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will appear virtually to offer “a special message of peace,” according to an HFPA statement.

Maybe the most surprising choice the HFPA has made this year is selecting a critically acclaimed but not widely known actor and comedian as the ceremony’s host. Carmichael’s Emmy-winning HBO special “Rothaniel” was widely praised by critics, but he is new to the Globes. The last broadcast ceremony was co-hosted by regulars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

If promos are an indication, Tuesday night’s ceremony will be heavy on irony, as viewers decide whether the Globes are worth their screen time.

“People care more about winning a Globe than they do their own children,” Carmichael says in one of his deadpan promotional clips.