A former publicist for the organisation that runs the Golden Globes has sued the group on the eve of its glitzy awards show, claiming it engages in illegal payment schemes for nominations and awards.
Michael Russell sued the Hollywood Foreign Press Association late on Thursday, just three days before the Golden Globes are due to air on NBC on Sunday.
The lawsuit claims that many association members “abuse their positions and engage in unethical and potentially unlawful deals and arrangements which amount to a ‘payola’ scheme” that could be illegal and jeopardize the group’s tax-exempt status.
In addition, the suit alleges the association sells prime spots on the show’s red carpet to lesser-known media outlets.
The filing does not list any specific examples in which a studio or producer has paid for a Golden Globes nomination or award.
Although the show is a precursor to the Academy Awards, it has long been criticised for some of its nominations, which are perceived as a way to gain favour with top actors.
This year’s show has been no different, with criticism of acting nominations for Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie for The Tourist, a critical and commercial flop.
Russell’s lawsuit notes a previous controversy that cast the Globes into obscurity for more than a decade.
In the early 1980s, the Globes lost its broadcast deal with CBS after it was accused of receiving favours in exchange for giving actress Pia Zadora a newcomer award.
The Golden Globes have been broadcast on NBC since 1995. The lawsuit says the network has paid 12 million dollars a year for the broadcast rights in a deal that expires after Sunday’s show. The lawsuit claims a renewed license fee could jump to 26 million dollars a year.