While the Golden Globes are watched by millions of film fans around the world, the 90-odd people who decide who wins the coveted awards largely remain in the shadows.
The membership of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is miniscule when compared to the nearly 10,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars.
The HFPA was founded in the 1940s by a small group of foreign journalists who wanted to improve their access to Hollywood and its stars.
From rather humble beginnings, the group eventually started to wield some clout in Tinseltown -- in part thanks to its free-flowing champagne and publicity stunts -- and now organizes one of Hollywood's most glam parties of the year.
Of course, not every foreign journalist can join. Candidates must live in southern California and have reported on the filmmaking industry for a media outlet headquartered outside the United States for at least three years.
More importantly, each candidate must have at least two current members sponsor his or her application. And any current member can veto an application outright.
Once admitted to the HFPA, the journalist must -- in theory -- produce at least six articles or broadcast pieces a year to remain an active member. Membership has its privileges: access to exclusive press conferences and screenings.
Studios are keen to ensure that HFPA members have seen their films and television shows -- sometimes under rather luxurious conditions, according to some involved who have spoken on the issue on condition of anonymity.
Most HFPA members are correspondents who work regularly for well-known media outlets, such as France's Le Figaro, Spain's El Pais, or Britain's Daily Mail.
But the group's reputation lost some luster when it was revealed that a small minority of members didn't work all that often -- one was a former Russian bodybuilder who did some acting in B-list films, while another was the widow of an actor who wrote on occasion for Tahitian media.
And some major media organizations including France's Le Monde newspaper and The Times of London lashed out when their correspondents were denied entry into the HFPA.
The group has also been criticized for its lack of diversity, with a Los Angeles Times report this week revealing the HFPA does not have a single Black member.
"So many crazy things about the @goldenglobes and the Hollywood Foreign press but this is awful," said Judd Apatow, one of several prominent showbiz celebrities circulating the hashtag #timesupglobes.
The HFPA released a statement recognizing that "we need to bring in Black members, as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds."
- Scandals -
The association has had its share of scandals.
When Pia Zadora won a Golden Globe in 1982 for what was widely seen as a dismal performance in incest drama "Butterfly," many cried foul and suggested her then-husband, an Israeli billionaire businessman, had bought the voters by inviting them to Las Vegas for a screening.
Of course, the HFPA members insisted the junket had no bearing on their decision, but suspicions have lingered.
Thirty years later, at the 2012 ceremony, edgy British comedian Ricky Gervais -- known for roasting the audience when he hosted the event multiple times -- revisited the issue.
He quipped: "The Golden Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton -- a bit louder, a bit trashier, a bit drunker and more easily bought, allegedly."