Two former publicists for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) sued the organisation just days before Sunday's (16Jan11) Golden Globes ceremony amid allegations of vote buying.
On Thursday (13Jan11), Michael Russell and Stephen Locascio filed a lawsuit against the association behind the annual prizegiving, alleging officials at the HFPA engaged in "despicable conduct" during their 17-year relationship with the awards show.
The allegations stated in the lawsuit include taking 'kickbacks', selling red carpet space and media access at a profit and receiving payment from studios to lobby voters.
The Superior Court complaint, obtained by CourthouseNews.com reads and published in the New York Post, reads, "Russell and Locascio were aware that many HFPA members abuse their positions and engage in unethical and potentially unlawful deals and arrangements... allowing its members to improperly profit from their association with HFPA and the Golden Globes.
"These deals and arrangements include, but are not limited to: accepting money/per diem, lavish vacations, junket lodging, gifts and other perks each year provided by studios and producers in exchange for support or votes in nominating or awarding a particular film, selling media credentials for profit in the form of space on the red carpet, to low profile or unknown 'media' entities, to cover the Golden Globes, and selling tickets and other membership privileges for the show."
Russell and Locascio, whose contracts were not renewed in February, 2010, are suing for punitive damages for fraud, defamation, wrongful termination, breach of contract, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, failure to pay wages and other charges.
Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais poked fun at the ongoing legal wrangle between the HFPA members and their former publicists during Sunday night's (16Jan11) show at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.
He jibed, "The Golden Globes is a celebration of the best in TV and movies over the last year voted for by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It was a big year for 3D movies: Toy Story, Despicable Me, Tron, seems like everything this year was three dimensional, except the characters in The Tourist... I'm jumping on the bandwagon because I haven't even seen The Tourist.
"It must be good because it's nominated so shut up, OK. And I'd like to quash this ridiculous rumour going round that the only reason The Tourist was nominated was so that the Hollywood Foreign Press could hang out with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. That is rubbish. That is not the only reason. They also accepted bribes."