A board member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was removed from his position after serving 44 years because he shared an article that called Black Lives Matter a “racist hate movement.”
Philip Berk, a member of the HFPA board for 44 years and who served as its president for eight terms, was expelled after sending an email to fellow board members that included an article describing Black Lives Matter as a “racist hate movement” and slamming co-founder Patrisse Cullors for purchasing numerous homes despite claiming to be a Marxist.
“Effective immediately, Phil Berk is no longer a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association,” the board said in a statement reported by The Hollywood Reporter. The outlet claimed Berk’s email was “racist” in its headline without quotation marks to note that this was said by another member of the board.
The Los Angeles Times received a copy of the email chain that included Berk’s email, which included responses from other members calling the article “racist,” and “vile.” Another board member called Berk “a thundering disgrace.” Berk replied: “I only intended to illustrate the hypocricy [sic] that engulfs us I forwarded it as a point of information I had no hidden agenda I now regret having sent it.”
But that was it for the 88-year-old from South Africa, due to previous issues. Berk took a leave of absence in 2014 after publishing his memoir, “With Signs and Wonders,” which the HFPA claimed made the organization look bad. Actor Brendan Fraser also accused Berk in 2018 of groping him at an event nearly 20 years earlier.
Berk’s removal follows allegations in February of ethical failures at the HFPA. The Times reported:
The Times’ investigation also found that the nonprofit HFPA regularly issues substantial payments to its own members in ways that some experts say could run afoul of Internal Revenue Service guidelines. HFPA members collected nearly $2 million in payments from the group in its fiscal year ending in June 2020 for serving on various committees and performing other tasks — more than double the level three years earlier.
Further, the organization came under fire ahead of the Golden Globe awards due to its lack of diversity, The Daily Wire reported:
The Los Angeles Times investigated the HFPA and published emails from members discussing the lack of diversity. Previously, HFPA President Theo Kingma told the Times that the organization was working to change its voting body.
“It is something that we should give a serious look at; times have changed, but sadly our bylaws don’t change as quickly,” he told the outlet Thursday.
That interview irked some other HFPA members, including Dierk Sindermann, who represents Austria, Germany, and Switzerland in the committee. Sindermann wrote an email to Kingma decrying his interview, writing, “Maybe I misunderstood you as the HFPA counsel but to my recollection you urged members not to comment publicly on internal affairs. Does this rule not apply any more?”
The investigation also revealed that the HFPA has no black members, and rejected a black woman in 2013, saying she didn’t have enough member votes.
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