Kjersti Flaa is used to asking questions. She writes celebrity profiles for Norwegian magazines and does entertainment interviews for TV2’s “God Kveld Norge” (“Good Evening Norway”) as well as her own YouTube channel.
But on Monday, she became the story. Flaa had just filed a blockbuster lawsuit alleging that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had schemed to deny her membership. Flaa unloaded a lot of dirty laundry, claiming that two Scandinavian reporters had campaigned against her membership because they worried she would compete with them for access to celebrities.
The suit accuses the group of acting like an illegal cartel, using its clout as the body that awards the Golden Globes to block non-members from getting work. Flaa alleges that the members never even read her clips when voting on her membership, and passed her over in favor of a less qualified Norwegian reporter. The HFPA denies her claims, and alleges that she tried to intimidate the group into accepting her.
In an interview with Variety, Flaa says she had no choice but to stand up for herself. In the process, she hopes to create a more inclusive and professional organization.
This must be not where you expected to end up, suing the Hollywood Foreign Press. So can you help me understand how you got here?
Yes. I’ve been working as a journalist for almost 20 years, and I moved to L.A. about five years ago from New York. And I’ve been covering the entertainment industry for a long time. Of course when you’re here in L.A. as an entertainment reporter, it would be a natural thing to think, “OK, I want to be part of this journalist organization covering entertainment.” I decided to apply in 2018, I had all the right requirements, and then from there I think you can read what happens in the claim.
Can you talk about your career and why it would be helpful to be in the HFPA?
I’ve been doing a lot of the typical press junkets for the last 12 years. I write for all the major newspapers and magazines in Norway. I also work for the biggest entertainment TV show in Norway, and I also have a YouTube channel that‘s been growing pretty fast, where I have almost 70 million views on my interviews. Of course it would be an amazing added bonus for me and for a lot of other journalists. I also see this for a lot of other foreign reporters in L.A. I’m not doing this only for myself. I’m doing this because I know so many other journalists that have gone through something similar.
The key question I was going to ask is how have you been harmed. The lawsuit talks about if you agree to join you can’t work for the publications the members work for. Have you felt that — being iced out of interviews or junkets because you’re not an HFPA member?
The HFPA gets access to about 300 press conferences a year. When you’re from a small territory like Norway, of course you’re not on the top of the list when it comes to publicity in movies, because you’re just covering what they would say is a smaller territory. It would be tremendous for me to have access to a lot more material.
You said there are other people who have felt shut out. Can you speak about their experience?
The experience can be pretty traumatic for most people, because you don’t get a fair process when you apply. You’re not judged on your professional work. Not to be judged on professional work when you’re a professional journalist, I don’t know the word to use…
It feels diminishing or insulting?
Of course. Of course it does.
What about the argument that the HFPA — there’s only 87 of them. Some people don’t take the Golden Globes too seriously — what about the idea that you don’t need to be part of it?
I see your point, but I think it would be amazing if the Hollywood Foreign Press is filled with a lot of professional journalists. That’s kind of my whole game here that I want to try and achieve. I think it’s an amazing organization in so many ways, because it represents foreign journalists. But I think they need to add more professional journalists, and I think that will change the organization.
You see a future where the Hollywood Foreign Press is respected and runs in an orderly, professional way.
I hope so. I think sometimes things won’t change from the inside. Maybe they just need a little push from the outside to change. But I do hope I can contribute to that in a positive way. I’m not out after getting anyone. I’m just out after making things better. And I think for journalists in general today it is an occupation that, it’s tougher and tougher to make a living from this as you probably know.
You were rejected in 2018 and again in 2019, and in 2020, according to the suit, they’ve changed the bylaws now so your TV work wouldn’t make you eligible. Did you feel like, “Here I am, I’m slaving away, I’m getting all these interviews, and it’s not recognized”?
Yeah. When I was rejected, I entered these journalist competitions. My profile on Jane Fonda took second place at the SoCal Journalism Awards Contest in 2018, and my TV interview with Henry Winkler was recognized as second runner up by the 12th National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards in 2019. I wanted to prove that I’m a good journalist. But y’know, that is not a plus when you apply to the HFPA. The more you show and the better you are, that doesn’t necessarily help you.
Well, the more of a threat you are?
I don’t want to say that, but yeah I guess some people could say that.
When did you realize “I’m going to sue these people”?
I don’t know if I can say this. They did something that kind of triggered it, when I realized there was a scheme going on behind my back that was a little too much. I felt like I needed to be able to defend myself. They went out of their way to make sure that I wouldn’t be accepted.
Many people would probably say, “Why don’t you just give it up, or wait some years, and do what they usually ask people to do?” But I felt that, y’know what, I’m going to stand up for myself and all the other entertainment journalists in L.A.
Of course it’s a huge thing to do. It’s not something easy to decide to do, but I just think it’s the right thing to do.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.
Marvel lied to you about the Avengers
Avengers: Age of Ultron isn’t generally regarded as one of the best entries in the MCU, but it has its strong points — including the closing moments of the film, when the Hulk commandeers an Avengers Quinjet and heads off for parts unknown. He later turns up on Sakaar, where he’s seen in Thor: Ragnarok as a sort of gladitorial all-star who battles all contenders for the amusement of the planet’s citizens under the direction of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).
It’s basically the MCU’s version of the classic Planet Hulk storyline from the comics, and a turn of events that fans had long been clamoring for. It also wasn’t initially supposed to be that way. As Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige later admitted, when Ultron was made, the MCU braintrust had no idea where Hulk would end up — but they explicitly told Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon that he wouldn’t be going to space. “If you go back and look at that shot of the movie, he’s in the sky. It’s blue sky,” explained Feige. “In the movie, it’s, ‘We lost the signal out by the Caspian Sea.’ Or something like that, it was all earthbound.”
Here’s one case when it seems safe to assume that most Marvel fans forgive the studio for lying to them — their change of heart gave us Thor: Ragnarok, after all.
John Oliver on Republican SCOTUS Push: ‘It’s Not Democracy. It’s a F—ing Travesty’ (Video)
John Oliver returned with a new “Last Week Tonight” after a month-long hiatus, and delivered a rousing screed that lasted for most of the episode. The topic: Donald Trump’s attempt to fast-track Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court right before the election even though he and the Republicans in the Senate don’t represent a majority of the American people.
“If, and almost certainly when, Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court, the impact could be dire. In recent years, key cases have been decided by just one vote. From upholding the Affordable Care Act, to preserving DACA, to striking down an incredibly restrictive abortion law,” Oliver said.
“Should those issues come before the court again, they could now easily go the other way. And there is clearly no point holding on to hope that conservatives might choose to respect the precedent they set by refusing to even consider Merrick Garland in an election year, because that was always in bad faith.”
The problem, Oliver said, is that Republicans are clearly defying the will of the people with a far-right pick like Barrett. Oliver notes that polling shows clear majority preference for liberal causes like abortion rights and Medicare-for-all and the elimination of the Electoral College.
“This has been a very dark week for a lot of people. The Supreme Court is about to lurch to the right for the foreseeable future. And if things seem hopeless right now it’s because, to be completely honest, they basically are,” Oliver said.
“This is a pivotal moment. And while we got here a little bit by bad luck and bad timing, we also got here through diligent effort by Republican leadership and, crucially, some very big systemic problems that just have to be addressed. So tonight, let’s talk about that. Specifically, how the f— we got here and what the f— we can possibly do next.”
Oliver continued on from there by going in-depth on “the deeply undemocratic nature of America’s institutions.” “Last Week Tonight” then played a few videos of Republican senators claiming to have a “mandate” to do what they’re doing with Amy Coney Barrett.
“Let’s talk about that mandate, because neither the presidency nor the Senate are nearly as reflective of the will of the American people as they are suggesting there,” Oliver said. “First, take the White House. A Democrat has won the national popular vote in four out of the last five elections, but we’ve spent 12 of the last 20 years with a Republican in office. And that is because the Electoral College, with its winner-take-all approach in most states, can distort the will of the majority.
“On top of which it grants disproportionate power to less populous states, which tend to be rural and more conservative. Something which is even more pronounced in the Senate where there are 15 states representing 38 million people that have 30 Republican senators. Even though that is less than the total population of California, which has just two Democratic ones. And that’s before you even get into the fact that places like Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., where the populations are largely black or Hispanic, don’t have representation in the Senate at all.”
Oliver then dropped a pretty interesting bit of information: “The Senate gives the average Black American only 75 percent as much representation as the average white American. And the average Hispanic American, only 55 percent as much.”
When you consider how the Republicans have such a dramatically unfair and undemocratic advantage, Oliver said, it makes the current political situation in the United States seem even more ridiculous.
“When Barrett is confirmed, a president who lost the popular vote will have picked a quarter of the federal judiciary and a third of the Supreme Court. And his choices will have been rubber stamped by a Senate Republican majority representing 15 million fewer people than the Democratic minority,” Oliver said.
“And if that sounds absurd to you, it’s because it clearly is. Especially when those courts have allowed Republicans to set wildly unpopular policy that wouldn’t actually pass muster with voters.”
All is not lost yet, of course, Oliver said. Maybe the Democrats could take both the Senate and the presidency despite the system being “rigged” in favor of Republicans and Trump’s hope that SCOTUS will keep him in office if he loses the election.
“Let’s say for the sake of argument Democrats do manage to sweep the upcoming election. The biggest mistake will be to think that that has in itself fixed everything or, indeed, anything,” he said. “Because there is no point getting power unless you then willing to be bold enough to use it to make significant structural change.”
So what do the Democrats need to do? According to Oliver, there are a few things: abolish the Electoral College, or bypass it; expand the Supreme Court; make Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico states; abolish the filibuster.
Oliver acknowledged that “court expansion could open the door to a never-ending cycle of both parties doing it, which could permanently destabilize one of the bedrock institutions of American governance.” But he pointed out once again, to end the segment, that these moves would just be the start of a very, very long fight.
“Because the unavoidable truth here is that the system is already rigged,” Oliver said. “And it’s rigged in a way that has allowed a party without popular support to drastically reshape an entire branch of government for the foreseeable future by appealing almost exclusively to white voters in some of the least populous regions of the country. That is not a mandate and it’s not democracy. It’s a f—ing travesty.
“We are at the end of a generational battle, and the heartbreaking thing is, we lost. And that hurts. It’s gonna hurt for a long time for a lot of people in ways that could take a while to fully comprehend.’
But Oliver isn’t being fatalistic about it.
“The next battle has to start right now, and it will be long. We didn’t get here overnight and we won’t get out of here overnight, but we must be willing to fight tirelessly, and with every tool and tactic at our disposal.”
You can watch this entire segment from this week’s episode of “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” in the video embedded in this article, or on YouTube right here.
The Morning Watch: VFX Artists React to ‘TRON’ and ‘TRON Legacy’, All the ‘Cobra Kai’ Easter Eggs & More
The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.
In this edition, see how VFX artists react to the original TRON from 1982 and the sequel TRON Legacy from nearly 30 years later. Plus, Netflix shows off all the Cobra Kai Easter eggs from the first and second season. And finally, Drew Barrymore reunites with her Charlie’s Angels co-star and ex-husband Tom Green.
First up, Corridor Crew is back with edition of VFX Artists React, and this time they’re focusing on the original TRON from 1982, and the 2010 sequel TRON Legacy. Watch as they compare vehicles like lightcycles and recognizers between the first film and the sequel, and learn about some of the secrets that brought the grid to life in both of the movies.
Next, Netflix has put together a video featuring all of the Easter eggs in the first two seasons of Cobra Kai that reference the film franchise that came before it. Some are subtle references to scenes and even obscure characters while others mirror some of the more famous moments from the various films. This is also a good way to catch up on the series before the third season arrives.
Finally, on The Drew Barrymore Show, the host reached out to her ex-husband Tom Green to reunite for what appears to be the first time in 20 years. With the offbeat comedian who became famous on MTV, Drew remembers working on Charlie’s Angels, which is their romance started, the early dates they had after that, and their memories of the time they spent together in the early 2000s.
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