"We hear your concerns about the changes our association needs to make and want to assure you that we are working diligently on all of them," HFPA President Ali Sar said in a response

By Nicholas Rice
May 08, 2021 02:00 PM
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Golden Globe trophies
Golden Globe trophies
| Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Netflix, alongside a slew of various organizations, is pledging to end its work with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association until the organization makes changes that many people feel are long overdue.

On Thursday, Netflix's co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos sent a letter to the HFPA's leadership committee and detailed that he, like many others, is not satisfied with the organization's plans to rebuild itself amid controversy for its lack of diversity among members.

Sarandos' letter came shortly after the HFPA, a group of journalists who conduct the yearly Golden Globe Awards, voted to approve reforms to its organization, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Like many in our industry, we've been waiting for today's announcement in the hope that you would acknowledge the breadth of issues facing the HFPA and provide a clear roadmap for change," Sarandos, 56 wrote in the letter obtained by Deadline. "Today's vote is an important first step. However, we don't believe these proposed new policies — particularly around the size and speed of membership growth — will tackle the HFPA's systemic diversity and inclusion challenges, or the lack of clear standards for how your members should operate."

Sarandos continued, "So we're stopping any activities with your organization until more meaningful changes are made. We know that you have many well-intentioned members who want real change — and that all of us have more work to do to create an equitable and inclusive industry. But Netflix and many of the talent and creators we work with cannot ignore the HFPA's collective failure to address these crucial issues with urgency and rigor."

Golden Globe Trophy
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In response, HFPA President Ali Sar wrote a letter to Sarandos and said the HFPA has "always valued our relationship with Netflix as we seek to bring news about motion pictures and television to the world," according to Deadline.

"We hear your concerns about the changes our association needs to make and want to assure you that we are working diligently on all of them," Sar said. "We can assure you that our plan reflects input from our supporters and critics alike, and we truly believe that our plan will drive meaningful reform and inclusion within our Association and in a way that the entire industry can be proud of."

Sar added, "We are proud that our plan was overwhelmingly approved by more than 90 percent of the membership—there is no question the membership is embracing this opportunity."

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Sar then noted that he and the HFPA "would love to meet with you and your team so we can review the very specific actions that are already in the works."

"An open dialogue would help to ensure that we are addressing these concerns as quickly as possible," Sar continued, before he also addressed "several issues that you raised" and clarified "some misinformation" in the conclusion of his letter.

Representatives for the HFPA did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Listen below to the episode of our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on the controversy surrounding the HFPA.

Also on Friday night, Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, distancing itself from the HFPA. "We have not been working with the HFPA since these issues were first raised, and like the rest of the industry, we are awaiting a sincere and significant resolution before moving forward," Salke said.

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The HFPA's plans have since also been criticized by several stars, including Mark Ruffalo, who said he "cannot feel proud or happy about being a recipient of this [Golden Globe] award," in a statement to Deadline. The actor previously won for his double roles on HBO's I Know This Much Is True.

"It's discouraging to see the HFPA, which has gained prominence and profited handsomely from their involvement with filmmakers and actors, resist the change that is being asked of them from many of the groups that have been most disenfranchised by their culture of secrecy and exclusion," Ruffalo, 53, said. "Now is the time to step up and right the wrongs of the past."

The actor added, "Our industry is embracing the opportunity for greater equality in this beautiful moment. It is not perfect and long overdue but it is clear what must happen and how. The Justice Movement is offering all of us, the HFPA, and every other entertainment entity, a good way forward.  We should all follow suit. It is our audiences and our highest sense of decency that we are ultimately serving with these changes. They are both deserving."

Scarlett Johansson, who starred in several Avengers films with Ruffalo, spoke out against the HFPA in a statement to Deadline on Saturday.

"As an actor promoting a film, one is expected to participate in awards season by attending press conferences as well as awards shows. In the past, this has often meant facing sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on sexual harassment. It is the exact reason why I, for many years, refused to participate in their conferences," the Black Widow star said. "The HFPA is an organization that was legitimized by the likes of Harvey Weinstein to amass momentum for Academy recognition, and the industry followed suit. Unless there is necessary fundamental reform within the organization, I believe it is time that we take a step back from the HFPA and focus on the importance and strength of unity within our unions and the industry as a whole."

GLAAD also called out the HFPA for its lack of inclusion when it comes to the LGBTQ community, with President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement posted on Twitter. "The HFPA reforms do not go far enough to ensure the organization as a place where historically marginalized communities —including the LGBTQ community— feel welcomed; especially not in time for meaningful change to take place before the 2022 awards season. There is a lack of transparency and accountability which still has yet to be addressed," Ellis wrote.

"It's not enough for the HFPA to just say that they are working towards having a certain number of Black members. It's time for the HFPA and the Golden Globes to truly reflect the full intersectional diversity of Hollywood. GLAAD stands alongside the Time's Up Foundation, Color of Change, and all those who are calling for further and more rapid change, real inclusion, and true acceptance," Ellis said.