What Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais forgot: Hollywood only thinks it can take a joke
Expect Hollywood gossips to debate and dissect it over the next few days and weeks like the Zapruder film: host Ricky Gervais' seeming disappearance from Sunday's Golden Globes awards after stars began objecting onstage to his pointed jokes.
Fans watching the Globes telecast began trading messages about it on Twitter about halfway through the show, not long after star Robert Downey Jr. went onstage and quipped that aside from being "hugely mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones," the show's vibe was great, elements presumably provided by Gervais. The host had just introduced him by joking that many of his films' titles sounded like porn movies -- Iron Man, Two Girls and a Guy, Wonderboys -- before noting more people knew him from well-publicized stints in jail and rehab.
Not long after, the Great Disappearance began, and Gervais was absent for a long spell before re-surfacing with chastened look to toss less caustic barbs at Tim Allen and Sandra Bullock. "We recall back when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian," Toy Story 3 star Tom Hanks quipped after taking the stage with Allen.
(Gervais has since released a statement saying his hourlong absence from the show was planned, he introduced everyone he wanted to bring on and no one at the show asked him to hold back or criticized him backstage.)
I think Gervais tried to make the Globes what it promises to be every year but increasingly isn't; a freewheeling anti-Oscars that unfolds like a wild party thrown by the coolest kids in showbusiness. But the Globes have been full of their own self-importance for quite a while now, and aside from Gervais' energetic put-downs, most of what went down was good, old-fashioned business-boosting award wins. (Anybody who saw my interview with him last year, just a few weeks after his first Globes appearance, would have realized what was coming.)
Deadline Hollywood Daily has a quote from Gervais delivered at HBO's amazing after party -- I went a couple of years ago; it's a huge collection of stars hanging poolside at the Beverly Hilton's Trader Vic's -- in which the comic said no one hassled him backstage during the show, he said what he wanted to and doesn't expect to be invited back. So there, Mr Stuffy HFPA President....
On the TV end, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association did marvelously, handing three key wins to Glee (best comedy series, best supporting actress and supporting actor in comedy) and honors to HBO's Boardwalk Empire (best actor in drama, best drama series), the criminally under recognized Sons of Anarchy star Katey Sagal (best dramatic actress), Temple Grandin's Claire Danes (best actress, movies), You Don't Know Jack's Al Pacino and Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons (best comedy actor).
The only misstep here -- and an understandable one, given the HFPA's status as mostly film writers -- was an award for comedic actress to film-actress-turned-cable-Tv-star Laura Linney of Showtime's The Big C, a well-meaning series that never quite jelled like competitors 30 Rock, Nurse Jackie and Glee.
In the end, folks connected to The Social Network and The King's Speech can prepare for a fruitful Oscar season, Gleeks can push back against everybody who says the show has been overrated this season and Gervais can wonder if he'll ever work in Hollywood again (probably. But not with Tom Cruise, John Travolta or Downey, I bet)
Here's a few more Gervais quips, in case you missed:
"Nothing for Sex and the City 2? I was sure the Golden Globes special effects would go to the team that airbrushed that poster. Girls, we know how old you are. I saw one of you in an episode of Bonanza."
"I Love You Phillip Morris stars Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay. So, the complete opposite of some famous scientologists … probably. My lawyers helped me with the wording of that joke."
"Do you want to go see Cher? No. Why not? Because it's not 1975."