Philip Berk allegedly sent an email calling the Black Lives Matter movement a "racist hate movement"

By Ale Russian
April 20, 2021 06:54 PM
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Philip Berk
Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the governing body overseeing the Golden Globe Awards, has expelled longtime member Philip Berk.

Berk, 88, was expelled after sending an email to his fellow members calling the Black Lives Matter movement a "racist hate movement" and criticizing BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors for buying a home in Topanga Canyon, California.

The South Africa-born ex-member had been part of the organization for 44 years and once served eight terms as president.

"Effective immediately, Phil Berk is no longer a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association," the HFPA's board said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon, via The Hollywood Reporter.

The Los Angeles Times, who had access to the email chain, published several responses from members who received the email and slammed Berk for sending it.

HFPA's COO, Goeckner, weighed in, writing, "Phil — it is not appropriate to circulate material such as this, which many members and staff find deeply offensive, to all members and staff as though it is a matter of Association business. Please do not circulate this type of material again."

"I only intended to illustrate the hypocricy [sic] that engulfs us I forwarded it as a point of information I had no hidden agenda I now regret having sent it," Berk answered, according to the emails obtained by The Los Angeles Times.

Golden Globe trophies
Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Berk's firing comes as the HFPA is in the midst of a firestorm of controversy surrounding this year's Golden Globes nominations and the membership itself.

The HFPA — which is currently composed of a small selection of 87 international journalists that determine the nominees and winners of the annual awards ceremony — presently has no Black members.

In response, the HFPA committed to increasing its membership to "a minimum" of 100 members this year, "with a requirement that at least 13 percent of the membership be Black journalists," according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter.

HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne, HFPA Board Chair Meher Tatna, and HFPA President Ali Sar speak
Credit: Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

This is not the first time Berk has been embroiled in controversy in recent years.

In 2018, actor Brendon Fraser accused Berk of assaulting him in the summer of 2003, while at a luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Berk denied the allegation, and no charges were filed.

According to Fraser, the assault happened when Berk reached out to shake Fraser's hand on his way out of the hotel. "His left hand reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. And he starts moving it around," Fraser claimed in an interview with GQ.

Fraser said the incident left him overcome with panic and fear. "I felt ill," he said, recalling his emotions after he removed Berk's hand. "I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry. I felt like someone had thrown invisible paint on me."

Berk called Fraser's account a "total fabrication" in a statement to GQ at the time, but in his memoir, he admitted to having pinched Fraser's backside as a joke.