LOS ANGELES – The organization that hosts the Golden Globe Awards has sued its former publicist for fraud, claiming he and his partner cannot prove allegations the group engages in payola in exchange for awards.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association sued Michael Rusell, his partner Stephen LoCascio and Russell's public relations firm on Monday, claiming they breached a confidentiality agreement. The lawsuit also claims the pair attempted to profit off their connection with the glitzy awards show.
The lawsuit comes roughly three weeks after Russell sued the HFPA, claiming its members accepted graft in exchange for nominations and awards. Russell's suit was filed three days before this year's Globes ceremony, which attracted Hollywood stars such as Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry and honored actor Robert DeNiro with a lifetime achievement award.
"Without a shred of evidence, (Russell's firm) manufactured a fanciful tale of Hollywood intrigue that harkens back to the early days of rock 'n roll radio, with its colorful reference to 'payola,'" the lawsuit states.
The HFPA's lawsuit claims Russell and LoCascio attempted to divert money and gifts from sponsors to benefit some of their other clients.
A phone message for Russell's attorney, Timothy McGonigle, was not immediately returned.
Russell's lawsuit did not seem to impact this year's awards ceremony, with 17 million people tuning in. It claims his firm was fired after repeatedly raising ethical issues regarding HFPA members to the association.
Both cases have been filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and are seeking unspecified damages.