Golden Globes: Ricky Gervais makes some stars squirm
Ricky Gervais may indeed have “warned” the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. that he’d pull no comedic punches and spare none of Hollywood’s sacred cows in reprising his role as host for the 68th Golden Globes broadcast.
Nonetheless, a visible contingent in the glitzy crowd seemed palpably discomfited by the British comic’s full frontal joke assault, which set a corrosive tone for this year’s ceremony.
Gervais’ opening remarks — which snark-blog Gawker has already dubbed "one of the most unrelentingly harsh and uncomfortable monologues in awards show history" — skewered Cher’s status as a senior citizen, needled Hugh Hefner as “the walking dead” and made mincemeat of the dialed-in Angelina Jolie-Johnny Depp heist-thriller “The Tourist.” But that was only a warm-up. He went on to question the sexual orientation of high-profile entertainment industry Scientologists and — talk about biting the hand that feeds — suggested that the HFPA had accepted bribes (as a recent lawsuit has alleged).
After introducing Robert Downey Jr. as someone better known for his stays “at the Betty Ford Clinic and the L.A. County Jail” than for his movie roles, the “Iron Man” star felt compelled to remark: “Aside from the fact that it’s been hugely mean spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I’d say the show’s going pretty good so far, wouldn’t you?”
Among Gervais’ other victims: Bruce Willis (“Ashton Kutcher’s dad”) and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s president Phillip Berk (“I had to help the HFPA president off the toilet and pop his teeth back in!”).
In a made-for-TV moment no one was expecting, though, Berk gave the English "Office" star back as good as he got: “Ricky, the next time you want someone to qualify your movies, go to another guy.”
While attendees such as Guy Pearce and Sean “Diddy” Combs heartily endorsed the comedian’s low blows — “I think he’s doing an excellent job,” Combs exclaimed, “I’m really enjoying it!” — certain presenters hedged their bets with mixed praise — "He's been terribly nasty and horribly rude and I think he's genius," said "The Social Network" co-star Andrew Garfield. But some guests, including veteran Hollywood producer Dick Zanuck, could hardly suppress their disdain for Gervais' performance.
"It's one thing if it's just the people in the room, but on a broadcast it makes you feel bad for some of the people," said Zanuck, producer of "Alice in Wonderland" with a string of successes dating to "Jaws" and "The Sound of Music." "I know it's what some people want, but I still feel bad."
Backstage after presenting an award, Downey, a recovering addict who spent a number of years as the punchline to the kind of barbs now directed at Charlie Sheen, elaborated on his earlier remarks.
"I think it's great to be funny but it's just better if you can do it without hurting people," Downey said.
— Chris Lee and Geoff Boucher
Photo: Host Ricky Gervais is shown at the Golden Globes. Credit: Associated Press/NBC, Paul Drinkwater