The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. — the creator and owner of the Golden Globe Awards — has filed suit against Dick Clark Productions, alleging the TV producer sought to "steal" the rights of the awards show and secretly negotiate a low-ball renewal deal of the telecast with NBC.
The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles, further claims that the TV producer sought to "exploit the Golden Globe-related marks, license the digital and other ancillary rights, create promotional campaigns or sell sponsorships" without permission.
Dick Clark Productions said the case had no merit. An NBC spokeswoman declined to comment.
The Golden Globes have become an increasingly important platform in Hollywood's awards-obsessed culture and are used in predicting winners for the Academy Awards. Last year the Globes award show on NBC pulled in 17.2 million viewers, up from 15.1 million in 2009.
Over the years the Golden Globes has been dogged by complaints that the approximately 100 members of HFPA — a self-selected group of foreign journalists — wield undue clout. At the same time, Hollywood's publicity machine has embraced the Golden Globes as a way to promote its movies and give them an edge heading into the Academy Awards.
Dick Clark Productions — a unit of Red Zone Capital, a private equity firm headed by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder — has produced the awards show for almost two decades. The agreement between the HFPA and Dick Clark Productions is set to expire after January's Golden Globes.
Under the current deal between the HFPA and Dick Clark Productions, the production company gets 50% of the net profit the show generates. NBC will pay $13.3 million in rights fees to telecast that show, according to a person familiar with the pact.
Though the two sides do not have a new deal, the HFPA said DCP at the end of October signed a new rights deal with NBC that runs from 2012 through 2018. The price tag for that deal goes from $17 million in 2012 to $26million in 2018. The HFPA thinks that price undervalues the franchise.
The association said the producer signed the deal with NBC "all behind HFPA's back and all the while pretending to negotiate a new contract with HFPA."
The HFPA mentioned failed talks with Facebook as an example, claiming that DCP told Facebook that it, not the association, owned digital rights, after the HFPA approached the social networking site about a digital component to the show.
The association also accuses Red Zone and DCP of doing secret deals with sponsors and keeping the money for itself, all as part of a plan to take over the Globes.
The suit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction against Dick Clark Productions and Red Zone from using the Globe trademarks for anything not related to this January's show.