Who is Philip Berk? Brendan Fraser Golden Globes HFPA scandal explained as ‘The Whale’ star refuses to attend ceremony
Brendan Fraser will reportedly not attend the Golden Globe Awards even if he receives a nomination for his work in the recent Darren Aronofsky film The Whale.
Speaking to GQ for the publication’s Men of the Year issue, the actor mentioned that he “will not participate” in the HFPA organized event:
“I have more history with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association than I have respect for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It’s because of the history that I have with them. And my mother didn’t raise a hypocrite. You can call me a lot of things, but not that.”
The decision comes after Brendan Fraser accused former HFPA President Philip Berk of assaulting him in the summer of 2003 during a luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The latter previously denied the alleged incident.
At the time, several media outlets reported that Fraser was “blacklisted” from Hollywood for his allegations against Berk. However, The Mummy star told Sway in the Morning radio show in 2019:
“I don’t think the HFPA really wield that much power.”
The Golden Globes Award is set to return to NBC in 2023 after the network denied airing the show amid HPFA’s controversy surrounding the lack of representation and complete absence of African-American members in the organization.
Following the backlash, Frances Berwick, the chairman of Entertainment Networks, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, told the LA Times that the organization was aware of the issue and was “committed to addressing” the situation:
“We recognize the HFPA’s commitment to ongoing change and look forward to welcoming back the Golden Globes to NBC for its landmark 80th Anniversary in January 2023.”
Meanwhile, President of the HFPA Helen Hoehne added:
“We are thrilled to announce the return of the Golden Globe Awards on NBC and to hosting the ‘Party of the Year’ for audiences around the world who have been waiting for its return. It’s great to be back at the Beverly Hilton for the must-see celebration recognizing the best in film and television.”
Hoehne also mentioned that the HFPA will continue to remain committed to introducing “important changes and supporting programs” which will include prioritizing diversity, inclusion and transparency.
The Whale is considered to be Brendan Fraser’s comeback in Hollywood. The actor reportedly became emotional after receiving a standing ovation for his performance at the Venice International Film Festival.
Everything to know about Philip Berk
Philip Berk is a longtime member and former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. He was associated with the organization for over 44 years and served eight terms as the president of the group.
However, he was expelled from the organization last year after it was revealed that he emailed his fellow HFPA members an article that dubbed Black Lives Matter as a “racist hate movement” and called out co-founder Patrisse Cullors for purchasing a home in Topanga Canyon.
Following the controversy, HFPA officially announced that Berk will no longer be a member of the association:
“Effective immediately, Phil Berk is no longer a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.”
At the time, Berk responded that he had no hidden notif behind sending the email:
“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.”
Prior to the incident that led to his expulsion, Berk took a leave of absence after releasing his 2014 memoir With Signs and Wonders, which reportedly did not reflect well on HFPA. He also made headlines after actor Brendan Fraser accused him of assault in 2018.
A look into Brendan Fraser’s allegations against Philip Berk
In 2018, Brendan Fraser appeared in a GQ interview and claimed that then-HFPA president Philip Berk assaulted him during a 2003 luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. He alleged that the assault happened after Berk attempted to shake Fraser’s hand on his way out of the hotel:
“His left hand reaches around, grabs my a** cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. And he starts moving it around.”
The Inkheart actor said that he felt “panic and fear” following the incident:
“I felt ill. I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry. I felt like someone had thrown invisible paint on me.”
Brendan Fraser also mentioned that he became depressed after opening up about the situation and also blamed himself at one point:
“I became depressed. I was blaming myself and I was miserable — because I was saying, ‘This is nothing; this guy reached around and he copped a feel.’”
The HFPA reportedly admitted that Berk was involved in inappropriate conduct but claimed that his gesture was a “joke”:
“Although it was concluded that Mr. Berk inappropriately touched Mr. Fraser, the evidence supports that it was intended to be taken as a joke and not as a sexual advance.”
Meanwhile, Philip Berk issued a statement to GQ alleging that Brendan Fraser fabricated the incident and refused to admit any wrongdoing in his apology:
“Mr. Fraser’s version is a total fabrication. My apology admitted no wrongdoing, the usual ‘If I’ve done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intended and I apologize.’”
Berk also denied the assault allegations while speaking to The New York Times about the situation and remained the president of HFPA until his recent expulsion over the 2021 racial controversy.