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Former Publicist Sues Hollywood Foreign Press Association

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A former publicist has sued the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with charges that it is corrupt, and runs a massive payola scheme.

The lawsuit claims that the 80 members of the HFPA accept money, vacations and gifts from entertainment companies in exchange for nominating their TV shows and movies for awards.

Former HFPA publicist Michael Russell claims the group owes him $2 million in lost salary and other damages in the lawsuit, which was first reported in the entertainment industry Web site "The Wrap."

The lawsuit, posted online by, claims that Russell was fired after he told the HFPA that its defective business practices could jeopardize its lucrative contract with NBC television, estimated to be worth $26 million in 2012.

The members of the HFPA are accused of "accepting money/per diem, lavish vacations, junket lodging, gifts and other perks each year provided by studios and producers in exchange for support or votes." said the HFPA and NBC could not be reached for comment.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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