The growing trend toward adding more entertainment to award shows just took a curious twist. The Golden Globes announced that Ricky Gervais will host the show Jan. 17, marking the first time that the award ceremony has had an emcee since 1995. John Larroquette ("Night Court," "The John Larroquette Show") and Janine Turner ("Northern Exposure") were the last to have the job, serving jointly as ringmasters the last time TBS aired the Golden Globes telecast before NBC's takeover.
Gervais is a smart choice for several reasons — he's considered ultra-hip by the cognoscenti and he's handled himself deftly, and hilariously, at award shows in the past. Most memorable were his antics at the Emmys in 2008, one year after he failed to show up for his upset victory as best comedy actor for "Extras." Watch the YouTube video below to recall his wacky exchange with Steve Carell that was so slick many viewers initially believed it wasn't scripted. A few weeks earlier, he admitted that he was plotting a diabolical stunt when he did a podcast chat with us at Gold Derby (listen here).
At the most recent Globes, Gervais raised eyebrows when he appeared at the podium and teased "The Reader" star Kate Winslet about finally winning her first statuette from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association: "I told you. Do a Holocaust movie and the awards come! Didn't I?"
But Gervais is also an appropriate choice to host the next HFPA kudocast considering that the Globes paid a huge role in bringing the British comedian to prominence in the U.S. Six years ago he was just marginally on the Hollywood radar as the dumpy, oddball star of the quirky U.K. TV comedy series "The Office," which was reaping minuscule TV ratings on BBC America. Most award-watchers were shocked when it pulled off Golden Globe nominations for best comedy series and lead actor and certainly didn't think it had any chance of winning. The fact that the show broke through with such high-ranking nominations was credited to the fact that voters are foreigners, so therefore more attuned to British TV largely unfamiliar to Yankee audiences.
But "The Office" won the comedy trophy over Emmy champ "Arrested Development," frequent Globes fave "Sex and the City," "Monk" and "Will & Grace." Gervais won best comedy actor over Matt LeBlanc ("Friends"), Tony Shalhoub ("Monk"), Bernie Mac ("The Bernie Mac Show") and Eric McCormack ("Will & Grace").
Usually, I'm backstage in the press room during most Globes ceremonies, but that year I sat at a banquet table in the audience with the stars and got to witness up close how flabbergasted everyone was by the victories.
But when Gervais triumphed twice at the Globes with a low-rated, little-known show, it signaled that he was becoming a serious Hollywood player. In recent years, awards bloggers have bandied his name around as a possible Oscar host, but it was unlikely that he could land that post considering his low Q score. He's perfect for the Globes gig, though, and, if he does well on stage at the Beverly Hilton, he may have a future shot to hold forth at the Kodak Theatre.