An awards show owes a lot to its host.
The challenge of finding the right kind of face to balance the awards to be bestowed is not an easy one. In this world of never-ending categorization, we like it when things go together well.
It’s why a song-and-dance man or woman is the best choice to lead the parade of Broadway’s Tony hopefuls across the stage. It’s also why a well-known TV personality is often the go-to choice for that industry’s night of nights, the Emmys.
Selecting a host for movie-driven awards ceremonies becomes a bit trickier. The shows are all about movies, so a movie star would be an obvious thought. But the night needs someone who can handle the demands of television — commercial breaks, scripts on a prompter, unexpected technical glitches, etc. — since that’s the medium that carries the broadcast. Again, the familiar television personality could be the answer.
Of course, that could be tricky, too. Witness David Letterman’s performance of questionable merit in 1995: Die-hard fans of his show might have adored the irreverent “Uma, Oprah” bit, but that kind of silliness alienated those viewers who just didn’t get the joke.
In the case of the Golden Globes, where stars of the big screen rub elbows with stars of living-room screens, the occasion calls for a host who can bridge the gap between box-office grosses and Nielsen ratings — or at least one who can treat everyone with the same level of respect.
Or, as it turns out, contempt.
Back after a three-year break, during which time Tina Fey and Amy Poehler deftly handled the duties of emceeing the night, Ricky Gervais will host Sunday’s “73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards.”
Gervais, the British comedian likely best known for creating and starring in “The Office” on the BBC, has been down this road before. Three times, in fact.
Gervais hosted the Golden Globes in 2010, ’11, and ’12, and throughout those performances he managed both to honor and insult such Hollywood notables as Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson, Robert Downey Jr., Sandra Bullock, the broadcasting network NBC, and the evening’s hosts and award sponsors — the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
He has cemented the Globes’ reputation as the not-so-serious sibling to the Oscars.
It’s all in line with keeping the evening lively — and delivered in good fun, of course. Finding faults in celebrities is never difficult, though his barbs in 2011 cut so close that his return visit the following year played it a bit safer and included a list of what Gervais claimed were rules from the HFPA, which he read during the telecast and promptly ignored.
So what will he say this year?
There are interesting story lines surrounding the Globes — including how “The Big Short” and “The Martian” are nominated in the movie musical or comedy category, or that only one TV show nominated for best drama or musical/comedy is from a broadcast network (“Empire”), with the rest coming from cable or streaming services, seemingly sending a sign to said networks. But Gervais’ unpredictable monologue and subsequent jokes throughout the program should be reason enough to tune in.
“The 73rd Annual Golden Globes” airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on NBC (Ch. 15).
What else is new?
There may be no second acts in real life, but what about a “Second Chance”?
In Fox’s new drama, death isn’t the end for Jimmy Pritchard, whose existence riddled with corruption, shame, and regret ends when he’s killed in an attempt to stop a robbery. He returns, however, as a younger, more powerful version of himself, thanks to the meddling of two scientists researching reanimation.
Given the opportunity to change his life and repair damaged relationships, will he do it? Or will he give in to the temptations that doomed his previous existence? “Second Chance” premieres at 8 p.m. Wednesday on Fox (Ch. 47).
And the Gallaghers, Chicago’s notorious ne’er-do-wells, are back in the sixth season of Showtime’s “Shameless,” starring William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum, 8 p.m. Sunday on cable Ch. 461.