January trial sought for Golden Globes dispute

Updated: 2011-11-16 09:44


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LOS ANGELES - The organizers of the Golden Globe Awards are asking a federal judge to begin a trial to decide who owns the show's broadcast rights in early January when final preparations for the glitzy gala will be under way.

The request by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for a trial during the first week of January is opposed by the show's longtime producer, dick clark productions. In court filings, attorneys for the producer say holding the trial in early January will disrupt the Jan. 15 broadcast of the 2012 awards ceremony by NBC.

The association argues in a court filing Monday that the case needs to be resolved to remove any uncertainty about the broadcast future of the show, which honors top Hollywood stars from movies and television.

"Delay may mean that potential networks will fill their broadcasting slates, the overall market may depress further, and HFPA will suffer incalculable injury," the association's attorneys wrote.

The producer's attorneys, however, argue the upcoming show will suffer if the trial begins in January.

"A trial that commences only one week before the show is scheduled to air, and that would be ongoing on the actual air date, can be expected to negatively impact the show by focusing attention away from the awards ceremony and towards the parties' dispute," attorneys for dick clark productions wrote.

A conference with the judge who will hear the case is scheduled for Nov. 30, but he has already told both sides that a January trial will be difficult to coordinate because of other cases he is hearing.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association sued dick clark productions in November 2010 after the company negotiated an extension with NBC to broadcast the show until 2018.

The journalists' group argued the producers overstepped their authority and are asking a judge to invalidate the deal so they can negotiate with other networks.

The production company, however, claims it has rights to stage the Globes as long as the show airs on NBC, and that it was granted those rights "in perpetuity" because it restored the show's prominence after it was knocked from airwaves by a scandal in the early 1980s.

The Globes are one of Hollywood's highest-profile awards shows, attracting A-listers from television and movies for a gala that sometimes helps stars build momentum during Hollywood's awards season, which culminates with the Oscars.

Tens of millions of dollars are at stake for both sides.

A trial to settle the broadcast dispute had been scheduled for September but was abruptly canceled by a federal judge who said she could no longer hear the case. The two sides agreed to allow dick clark productions to work on the 2012 show, but settlement talks have been unsuccessful so far.