The H.F.P.A. took advantage of its new prominence, too, polishing its reputation by hiring the savvy public relations firm Sunshine Sachs a decade ago. It has also increased its philanthropic contributions substantially. On its website it says it has given away $45 million over the past 28 years, with the money going to entertainment-related nonprofit organizations, college scholarships and the restoration of classic films.
The oddball accolades like Ms. Zadora’s in 1982 that used to be commonplace have been kept to a minimum. The last truly bizarre moment came in 2010, when voters nominated “The Tourist” for best comedy or musical. (It was neither. But it brought the movie’s stars, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, to the show.) And the members also started poking fun at themselves. Ricky Gervais, a frequent host of the Globes, said during the 2016 show that the awards were “a bit of metal that some nice old, confused journalists wanted to give you in person so they could meet you and have a selfie with you.”
Yet everyone got their cut. Publicists got paid to steer clients down the preshow red carpet. Award strategists began charging studios for advice about how to manipulate the Globes voters. The Los Angeles Times reported in February that a H.F.P.A. consultant can receive a $45,000 fee for their work, a $20,000 bonus if the film earns a best picture nomination and $30,000 if the film wins. Fees flowed to an army of stylists, limo drivers, spray tanners, banquet servers and red carpet-layers, as well as the trade magazines and newspapers that benefited from the additional advertising revenue.
Mainstream news outlets, including The New York Times, began to cover the Globes ceremony with greater intensity, generating enormous online interest and lending an aura of legitimacy to the proceedings, even if the awards still did not rival the Oscars as markers of artistic achievement.
“Fundamentally, all the people who were in a position to be critical enough that it would have an effect, were part of the system: the trade press, the major newspapers, the actors and directors,” Mr. Galloway said. “Anybody who could stand up with legitimacy and say ‘I don’t believe in this, I’m not doing it,’ had an incentive to keep going until finally, the potential damage to their own image made them turn the other way.”