Golden Globes Producer Jesse Collins on Whether the Telecast Will Address the HFPA Controversy, and His Next Challenge: Pitching Talent

Golden Globes producers have a decision to make as the kudocast returns in January after a year off: How much should they address the elephant in the room, a.k.a. the Hollywood Foreign Press Association controversies that led to last year’s hiatus?

For executive producer Jesse Collins, who’s showrunning this year’s Globes telecast, it’s a balance. Speaking to Variety on Monday morning immediately after the Globes nominations announcement at the Beverly Hilton, Collins said the HFPA’s reform efforts will be addressed — but they won’t consume the show.

“I think the HFPA has done a great job of just dealing with all that stuff over the past year,” Collins said. “I’m sure we’ll touch on it in places, but really it’s about… nominations just happened. A lot of incredible people got nominated. People work really hard to get those nominations. And I think we just want to focus on celebrating their greatness.”

A lot of that will also come down to how host Jerrod Carmichael decides to tackle the HFPA controversy, if at all. Past hosts (most notably, Ricky Gervais) have gotten big laughs from the Globes audience by poking fun at the HFPA and some of its questionable practices — even before the 2021 Los Angeles Times investigation that brought the organization to a reckoning.

Collins said Carmichael has pitched a unique angle on how he wants to host the 2023 Globes, which air on Tuesday, Jan. 10, on NBC and Peacock. “He has a very specific take that I want to hold back,” Collins said. “But he’s not just thinking like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to go tell some great jokes and have an awesome monologue.’ He is really walking in with a very specific point of view on how he wants to host the evening. And that was really exciting. It wasn’t just about coming in and having an amazing monologue. It was about what he can do for the show. That was the thing that really sealed the deal.”

NBC, the HFPA, Dick Clark Prods. and Jesse Collins Entertainment had originally put out asks to superstars such as Kevin Hart to host, but most passed on the gig. That’s when they set their sights on buzzy talent on the rise instead. As one insider noted, “If you can’t land a whale, focus on a fresh voice.” And Carmichael, who won an Emmy in September for his landmark special “Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel,” fit the bill.

“We just wanted someone that was going to bring a fresh perspective,” Collins said. “We love that he hasn’t done it before. He’s such a brilliant storyteller. Incredibly funny. I think he’ll walk in with a fresh perspective on all of it. And that’s what’s probably the most exciting, the lens that he’s going to host through.”

The upcoming Globes represents a return for the show on NBC after a year-long break following controversy around the HFPA’s operations and lack of diversity in its membership ranks. The HFPA has been in reform mode since then, and had met with major studios and networks in the spring and early summer to lay out the list of changes the org had made over the past year and a half. In September the Globes struck a new one-year deal with NBC, “which allows the HFPA and DCP to explore new opportunities for domestic and global distribution across a variety of platforms in the future,” according to the press release announcing the return.

Hollywood talent and publicists have taken a bit of a “wait and see” approach to the question of whether talent will attend and present at the upcoming Globes. But now that the nominations are out, Collins said he’s looking to get moving on bringing stars back to the telecast.

“Now, it’s just jumping on the phones going, ‘OK, here are the nominations. Let’s go. Here’s what we want to do, to really make this special to make this feel fun and celebratory,’” he said. “We’re just starting to put the pieces together. Obviously, nominations just happened. That really helps us kind of write the story of what the show was going to be… Now I feel like it’s really moving.”

Monday morning’s nomination announcement was meant to be a next step in that direction. It was a stark contrast to last year, when a much smaller gaggle of press gathered to witness HFPA president Helen Hoehne and surprise guest Snoop Dogg read the list of nominees.

This year, there was one hiccup: George Lopez, who had originally agreed to announce nominations with his daughter and “Lopez vs. Lopez” co-star Mayan Lopez, had to cancel due to COVID. Instead, another “Lopez vs. Lopez” star, Selenis Leyva, joined Mayan Lopez on stage. Hoehne introduced the duo at the announcement, carried live on NBC’s “Today” show (which had also boycotted coverage last year) at 5:30 a.m. PT — yes, the Globes still stubbornly get everyone out of bed on the West Coast before dawn to make that East Coast TV hit.

A spread of Beverly Hilton pastries, breakfast sandwiches and fruit (familiar to anyone who has spent time at the hotel, including Television Critics Assn. members) fed the crowd, along with gallons of coffee. Tables, chairs and stands for photographers and videographers were also much more filled than last year’s low-key event. HFPA members were on hand, led by Hoehne, as well as producers Collins and Dionne Harmon of Jesse Collins Entertainment; Dick Clark Prods. president Adam Stotsky and exec VP for television Barry Adelman, who has overseen the Globes production for more than 25 years.

“I grew up watching the show, and when the opportunity came to have a chance to produce it, I couldn’t say no,” Collins said. “It’s a celebration and we want to have fun with it. The champagne will be flowing.”

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