On Tuesday, the board of the Critics Choice Association notified the roughly 63 members of its approximately 600-member organization who were also members of the Hollywood Creative Alliance that they would have to pick one group or the other.
The CCA’s board said that it had concluded this step was necessary because it had uncovered “evidence that a representative of the HCA has improperly suggested to at least one studio (and we suspect more) that it could influence Critics Choice Awards voting,” and that this “led that studio to reach out to CCA and request that action be taken to protect the integrity of our awards.”
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The HCA has been plagued by external criticisms and internal dissension for years and even changed the name of its organization (from the L.A. Online Film Critics Society to the Hollywood Critics Association) and awards show (it used to be the HCA Awards) as it sought to rebrand itself. Through it all, big-name talent continued to show up for its awards ceremonies. But this new allegation of influence-peddling seemed to pose a new existential threat to the group.
The Hollywood Reporter has learned that dozens of people who were members of both groups have resigned from the HCA in order to retain their membership in the CCA. On Thursday, in an apparent attempt to stem the bleeding, the “HCA Leadership Team” issued a statement through its PR firm calling the CCA’s allegations “factually inaccurate.” The team also emphasized, “At no time have we tried to influence the awards votes of our members or make any suggestion to talent or studios that we would or could exercise such influence.”
But THR has obtained a communication that appears to contradict that. On Jan. 3, ahead of the Jan. 5 start of CCA final voting and the Astra Awards ceremony on Jan. 6, as the HCA sought to confirm talent attendance at its awards, HCA co-founder/CEO Scott Menzel wrote to studio publicists: “I do think it’s important to note to ALL TALENT that the Critics Choice voting opens this weekend, and there are about 50 members who are part of both groups including two of us in leadership (Yong [Chavez, now the HCA’s co-CEO] and I)… plus there are several other members who are in BAFTA, SAG and the Academy… I really would hammer that point home… because it could be a make or break for a lot of people… 50 votes is a LOT.”
The HCA, in its Thursday statement, sought to explain this: “During our awards outreach to studios, networks and personal representatives, we presented an opportunity to have their talent attend and/or present at our ceremonies. During these conversations, we acknowledged that our awards ceremonies took place during a key voting period for various organizations and noted that several of our members belonged to several guilds and organizations; ones that we champion and support. HCA ceremonies, just like other award shows, present studios, networks and talent with a unique opportunity to promote their current and upcoming projects amongst our membership and the world at large. Our intent is solely to support not only the talent but fellow organizations that recognize and honor the incredible voices within entertainment. Each award won at an award show, can only help to build the momentum for the next one. We want nothing more than to see all the talent that is nominated or honored go on and win multiple awards throughout awards season and into the future.”
The HCA statement closed: “The ultimatum presented by the CCA asking members to choose between the HCA and CCA is not only unfair to members but one that we deem to be rather unethical. Members of the industry have worked incredibly hard to be in groups like the Hollywood Creative Alliance and the Critics Choice Association. Membership into these organizations and other guilds showcase individual accomplishments and should be embraced and celebrated. Having any member choose between one of two organizations is not something we support or endorse. We believe our members should have the right to be part of as few or many organizations as they would like to be in. We, at the HCA, will continue to support our members being in other groups as it only helps to elevate them as valued and hardworking members of the entertainment industry.”
The CCA had no comment.
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