HFPA Boots Its Former President After He Called Black Lives Matter ‘Racist Hate Movement’ in Email (UPDATE)

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which annually conducts the Golden Globe Awards, has long faced backlash over concerns of diversity and inclusion.


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UPDATED 4/20, 4:20 p.m. ET: The board of the HFPA released a statement on Tuesday afternoon announcing Berk has been let go from the organization.

“Effective immediately, Phil Berk is no longer a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association,” the statement reads.

The 88-year-old, who is from South Africa, was a Hollywood Foreign Press Association member for 44 years and served eight terms as its president.

“This was, in effect, Berk’s third strike with the HFPA,” the Hollywood Reporter notes. “He previously took a leave of absence after writing a 2014 memoir, With Signs and Wonders, that did not reflect well on the organization, and was accused by the actor Brendan Fraser, in 2018, of groping Fraser’s buttocks at an event in 2003.”

See original story below.

In a leaked email, a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association—per a new report—shared a post in which Black Lives Matter was described as a “racist hate movement.”

The email, as noted by the Los Angeles Times’ Stacy Perman on Monday, was sent by ex-HFPA president Philip Berk. Berk, notably, served eight terms as the president of the non-profit organization that annually conducts the Golden Globe Awards. The post shared in the email is said to have also mentioned Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors in a similarly disparaging manner. Recipients of the email reportedly included HFPA members, staff, general counsel, and COO Gregory Goeckner.

Berk, who was previously alleged by actor Brendan Fraser to have sexually assaulted him, is reported to have not included a link in the email. The Times report, however, explained that the email seemingly pulled from a recent article on conservative figure David Horowitz’s website. The report also said the email in question was condemned in the ensuing thread by other members, with several criticizing it as racist.

Reached by Complex on Tuesday for comment, the following statement was provided on behalf of the HFPA board:

“Since its inception, the HFPA has dedicated itself to bridging cultural connections and creating further understanding of different backgrounds through film and TV. The views expressed in the article circulated by Mr. Berk are those of the author of the article and do not – in any way shape or form – reflect the views and values of the HFPA. The HFPA condemns all forms of racism, discrimination and hate speech and finds such language and content unacceptable.”

The HFPA has long faced criticism for its inaction on diversity and inclusion concerns, most recently including calls for a boycott from more than 100 public relations firms. 

Earlier this year, the HFPA said its board will oversee reforms “in consultation with outside advisors” regarding diversity and transparency. Among the action items outlined in March are the hiring of independent experts in organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion and an increase in the support of mentorship and scholarship programs for Black and other underrepresented journalism students.

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