One Of The Biggest Hollywood Groups Is Completely Falling Apart

That doesn't sound good.

By Vic Medina | Published


A high-profile entertainment association is neck-deep in controversy at the moment and on the verge of collapse, and it’s all due to people arguing on Facebook. Within the past week, the Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) has seen a number of members, and its own President, resign in protest over questionable practices by the group. That includes questions about conflict of interest, spending practices, and a “clique” mentality that excluded the very people it claimed to represent. It’s a stunning turn of events for a group that prided itself on an open approach to representation for critics, only to be exposed for some hypocritical behavior, according to a damning, lengthy report by The Hollywood Reporter.

The Hollywood Critics Association was founded in 2016 as the Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society (it changed its name in October of 2019) by Scott Menzel (of We Live Entertainment) and fellow critic and film producer Scott Mantz. Its original purpose was to represent critics from smaller publications and websites overlooked by larger critics organizations. They also pledged to be gender balanced and racially diverse. Critics now say the group did little to give those critics a voice, and instead became a self-promotional vehicle for Menzel. Mantz left the group in 2019, concerned with some of Menzel’s actions, which included adding his own wife as vice-president of the organization. Those concerns reached a crescendo this past week, causing the multiple resignations by membership. Menzel, however, played the victim, and while he offered some legitimate explanation for financial questions, his leadership, and his handling of votes by membership, remains an issue.

Things really blew up two weeks ago after an HCA member, online critic Shannon McGrew, began asking questions about the money being spent by the organization and other ethical conflicts. She posted in a private Facebook group just for HCA members, and while Menzel answered the questions for her, others began questioning his decision-making. As posts on Facebook often do, arguments and accusations began flying, and the rhetoric reportedly got ugly. Days later, The Hollywood Critics Association expelled McGrew from the group and issued a statement, casting her as the villain. McGrew herself was denied a seat on the board of directors, so her motivation may be “sour grapes,” but the concerns she raised were legitimate.

In addition to questionable business practices, other questions were raised as to why The Hollywood Critics Association, which claimed to champion critic diversity, seemed to exclude many minorities, including LGBTQ+ members, from participating or holding positions of leadership. Not only is Menzel the only founding member left from its inception, a number of former members and board members wondered if this was a true association or a one-man publicity machine. The HCA Annual Awards, though not televised, were attended by A-list celebrities Guillermo del Toro, Rami Malek, Mandy Moore, Andrew Garfield and Sydney Sweeney, among others. Yet, many felt this was Menzel’s organization alone.

While no additional action by the Hollywood Critics Association has been taken, the writing may be on the wall. The group relies on dues and sponsorships to survive, and mass-resignations may cause sponsors to become nervous and close their checkbook. Menzel has made no other statement to quell the controversy, and with the resignation by Lauren Huff of Entertainment Weekly as the HCA president, the group’s days may be numbered.