HFPA suspends Russian member Nellee Holmes over extortion

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The organisation behind the Golden Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, has suspended a member for bullying a journalist applying to join the organisation. Nellee Holmes, who covers the film industry for Russian media organisations, is understood to have admitted harassing a Ukrainian rival.

With the biggest film actors eager to earn Golden Globe nominations to help them towards Oscar success, the major studios give the Hollywood Foreign Press Association unprecedented access to stars.
With fewer than ninety LA-based international journalists, membership of the HFPA is highly coveted and hotly contested – and some members are said to oppose applications from potential rivals, who might reduce their own earning capacity from the exclusive interviews they are granted.HFPA members are flown around the world to visit film sets and interview actors and directors, as well as getting tickets to film premieres, parties and the prestigious Golden Globes show.

What’s Worth Seeing understands that when a Ukrainian journalist, Lena Basse, applied to join, Nellee Holmes forced her to agree not to write for some Russian outlets – and insisted that she hand over her Golden Globe ticket allocation; HFPA members can receive up to four tickets each, with a combined face value of three thousand dollars, but some members have been known to sell their tickets for considerably more, against the rules of the organisation.

When confronted with the allegation by fellow members, Ms Holmes is understood to have admitted trying to extort the tickets and tried to negotiate a shorter suspension, that would have meant she was able to join in the next awards season, but the membership chose to bar her until March next year, two months after the Golden Globes ceremony.

There have long been suggestions of impropriety within the HFPA and this incident can be seen as confirmation that in the case of Nellee Holmes, at the very least, a member has abused her position. But with the President of the HFPA, Lorenzo Soria, choosing not to confirm this story directly, questions have been raised about why the organisation would try to keep this development out of the public domain, rather than show that unacceptable behaviour among members is dealt with harshly.

Although Mr Soria has failed to respond directly to a request for comment, What’s Worth Seeing has seen what amounts to confirmation from him in an email to a source.