Anne Hathaway Golden Globes blunder explained by HFPA

 More than 24 hours after the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s website seemed to reveal Anne Hathaway as winner for best actress, the group has finally addressed questions about whether someone made a simple typo or a major blunder.

On Thursday evening, someone in Honduras paid a visit to the HFPA website, clicked on a link marked “nominations and winners” and found that one category listed not only its nominees but also denoted its winner (by highlighting and putting a star next to it) a full three nights before the 66th annual Golden Globes ceremony at which the winners of all categories were supposed to be announced.

If the spoiler snafu is true of the aforementioned category, best actress in a motion picture drama, then Hathaway (“Rachel Getting Married”) will prevail over fellow nominees Angelina Jolie (“Changeling”), Meryl Streep (“Doubt”), Kristin Scott Thomas (“I’ve Loved You So Long”) and Kate Winslet (“Revolutionary Road”). The Honduran brought his discovery to the attention of celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who broke the news to the rest of us at 7 p.m. EST Thursday — right around the time that Hathaway was picking up one-half of the Critics’ Choice Award for best actress.

Naturally, this confluence of events spurred the question: Had the Honduran stumbled upon something that had no basis in fact (a pre-Globes test of the website by a careless webmaster, perhaps?) or a major discovery?

The HFPA’s initial response failed to address the question. On Thursday evening, shortly after Hilton’s post went live, Hathaway was reverted back to a mere nominee on their website. Then, on Friday afternoon, they posted a statement on their website that read:

“In the process of preparing for Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association web team inadvertently marked a nominee as a winner. The mistake was immediately corrected.”

On Friday evening, I contacted the office of HFPA publicist Michael Russell to follow up on that because I felt it failed to answer the most pressing questions: Although the incident was obviously a “mistake,” as they characterized it, I wanted to know if (a) the person on their “web team” was in any way privy to the actual results, and (b) how voting results are secured by the HFPA — do they, like the academy, use an outside firm like Price Waterhouse Cooper?

I never received a response, but when I checked the site again shortly after 3 a.m. EST/12 a.m. PST on Saturday morning, the statement had been “updated,” retitled “For the Record” and finally addressed the lingering questions I had posed. It read(s):

“In the process of preparing for Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, a technician working on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s website made a mistake and a name of a nominee was randomly marked as a winner. The mistake was immediately corrected.

The ballots are tabulated by the accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP. Only four executives of the accounting firm know the identity of the winners before the envelopes are opened and recipients are announced during the live telecast. No one else, including the members of the HFPA, knows who the winners are prior to the live announcement.”

I’ll take the HFPA at their word — after all, assuming it was just a technician testing the website, it makes sense that he would mark the first name in the alphabetically ordered category as the winner, rather than the second, third, fourth or fifth. But those who suspect that this was more than just a simple error could well find support for their belief — valid or not — if Hathaway does indeed prevail on Sunday evening, which seems to be an increasingly likely scenario.

Source: LA Times Blog


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