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HFPA’s Longtime PR Firm Sunshine Sachs Exits Scandal-Plagued Golden Globes Organization

After 11 years of representing the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Golden Globes, Sunshine Sachs has ended its PR services.

FILE - This Dec. 9, 2019 file photo shows replicas of Golden Globe statues at the nominations for the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards  in Beverly Hills, Calif. The 77th annual Golden Globe Awards will be held on Sunday, Jan. 5. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Golden Globes

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Elite public relations firm Sunshine Sachs has officially severed ties with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization behind the annual Golden Globe Awards. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed the break on March 10.

“We have always [believed] and continue to believe in the ability of the HFPA to positively transform and hope that change inspires Hollywood as a whole,” a letter from Sunshine Sachs officially announcing the end of their services reads in part. “We will always cheer for reform and commitment to diversity and look forward to seeing your continued growth as an organization.”

The bicoastal PR firm is helmed by publicists Ken Sunshine and Shawn Sachs. The company has represented the HFPA since 2011, and additionally boats clients within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board and stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Sunshine Sachs reportedly notified the HFPA of its decision in writing earlier this week, and the news was broken to the HFPA’s board today.

The HFPA has been embattled in scandal since a February 26, 2021, Los Angeles Times report revealed that the organization had zero Black journalists among its 87 members, and that it had “engaged in questionable ethical and financial practices,” per THR. That was just the start.

IndieWire reported that among the accusations the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its annual Golden Globe Awards faced included “racist nominations, category designations, and membership; a lack of attention for female filmmakers; member resistance to watching films and shows outside their apparent comfort zones; a slavish affection for celebrity; and an overweening fondness for swag.”

Longtime Golden Globes broadcaster NBC told the HFPA that the network would not air the awards ceremony in 2022 unless the HFPA underwent major structural reforms. While the HFPA did promise new diversity efforts in March 2021, a list of more than 100 global PR firms sign an open letter stating that without real reform, the Globes can expect to lose access to their starry clients.

New HFPA bylaws were announced in August 2021, but the changes did not meet NBC’s requirements. NBC did not air the Golden Globes this year in 2022. The ceremony wound up being a muted affair that unfolded on social media and behind closed doors — with a philanthropy-driven approach.

“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform,” NBC said in a statement. “However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right. As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes. Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”

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