The Golden Globes are yet to get underway, but is the cat already out of the bag for the best actress gong? Fiona Williams investigates.
11 Jan 2009 - 7:28 AM  UPDATED 16 Jan 2014 - 3:33 PM

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the outfit behind the Golden Globes ceremony) has been on the back foot after an eagle-eyed web surfer in Honduras noticed that the Golden Globes website had identified Anne Hathaway as the best actress winner (with a winner's star) from as early as last week. He tipped off celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, who went wide with the news.

Though Hathaway was identified as a winner, Meryl, Angelina and co needn't rip up their acceptance speeches just yet, says the HFPA, which issued the following statement in a bid to dampen suggestions of a leak:

HOLLYWOOD, CA, Updated January 9, 2009 – In the process of preparing for Sunday's Golden Globe Awards, a technician working on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's website made a mistake and a name of a nominee was randomly marked as a winner. The mistake was immediately corrected.

The ballots are tabulated by the accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP. Only four executives of the accounting firm know the identity of the winners before the envelopes are opened and recipients are announced during the live telecast. No one else, including the members of the HFPA, knows who the winners are prior to the live announcement.

The HFPA swears they don't know the names of the winners, and there's good reason for that. A dark cloud has hovered over the Golden Globes for decades, not least since 1982 when the dubiously talented Pia Zadora won the Best New Star of the Year for the small film Butterfly, for which she beat the likes of Kathleen Turner for Body Heat.

It was universally acknowledged that the win was rigged. Though there's no concrete proof that she didn't win it fair and square, it didn't help that Zadora's billionaire husband had feted a group of HFPA members with a luxury getaway at one of his Las Vegas hotels around the time they were due to fill out their ballot forms.

Ever since that, the Golden Globes have fought to shrug off the stink of corruption, and an independent auditor has tallied the results.

Official explanations can be dubious but this one's actually pretty easy to swallow – every webmaster and blogger knows you need to test the way you publish content occasionally, it's just an unfortunate dose of bad PR for an organisation that already struggles in the credibility stakes...