In a tumultuous year for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (Hfpa), president Jorge Camara anticipates business as usual as the group prepares to announce its Golden Globe nominees on December 11.
As the second oldest awards body in Hollywood, after the Academy Awards, the Hfpa has seen and done a lot since its inception in 1943. However, even Camara - serving his second consecutive term (and sixth overall) as president - and the 90-odd membership, were sent reeling by the events of the last 12 months.
When the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike forced the group to cancel its popular awards show as a means of penalising the show's broadcast network NBC last January, Camara had to take drastic action. 'I was involved in all the negotiations and things were changing by the minute,' the veteran Mexican journalist says. 'It was a roller-coaster and a very, very difficult time for me and the board of directors and the rest of the membership.
'Basically the whole process of back and forth ran from the moment the nominations were announced (in December 2007) to the day we announced the winners.
'At one point we thought we would get the go-ahead from the WGA. It was literally a few days before the event was scheduled to air that we decided we wouldn't have a show.'
Members of the Screen Actors Guild showed solidarity with their writing counterparts and declared they would not cross a picket line, thereby almost ensuring a starless show. 'I know the actors were really unhappy they couldn't attend the last show because this is a recognition of their work,' says Camara.
Once the annual broadcast had been cut from the schedules, the Hfpa and show producers Dick Clark Productions arranged a press conference and invited TV entertainment anchors to help Camara announce the winners.
'The economic fallout from the cancelled broadcast was palpable, says Camara. 'We've tried to minimise cuts this year. Our running of the office has to go on. We made some minor cuts on the donations that we make every year. Instead of giving over $1m we gave over $750,000. We didn't want to cut our support to the schools and the scholarships and the students who depend on this.'
With the awards season in full swing, the emphasis now is on seeing the films and preparing for what is widely regarded as the most entertaining awards night of the year.
'We certainly want to have a good comeback. The Golden Globes is a celebration of talent and that's what we want to see reflected in the event,' says Camara. The awards ceremony is scheduled to take place at its usual venue, the Beverly Hilton, on January 11.
Around that time the knives usually come out as the Hfpa attracts criticism amid claims the group are freeloaders and non-working journalists. Does Camara believe others are envious' 'It could be,' he says. 'Look, Ernst & Young are not only the people who count the ballots for the winners - they also review our credentials as working journalists and that speaks for itself.
'We're a hard-working organisation and we're still here. We're like a mini United Nations with the same problems and advantages you get when so many cultures are thrown together. It's a very interesting group.'
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