Ricky Gervais sprinkles Globes barbs with charm

LOS ANGELES Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:33am EST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "It's going well, isn't it?" Ricky Gervais told the Golden Globes Awards gathering on Sunday. "You're so much better than last year's audience".

Gervais had it about right. With jokes ranging from Kim Kardashian's short-lived marriage to Jodie Foster's box-office flop "The Beaver," his third stint as Golden Globes host proved more of a charm than his controversial and acid comments a year ago.

Not that the British comedian had lost his nerve as he faced a ballroom packed with Hollywood A-list stars. But on Sunday he sprinkled better jokes with a dose of affection for the celebrities he was skewering, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) that hired him.

Well, sort of.

"The Golden Globes are just like the Oscars, but without all the esteem," Gervais began the three-hour ceremony, beer glass in hand.

"The Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton -- a bit louder, a bit trashier, a bit drunker and more easily bought. Allegedly," quipped Gervais.

After taking pot shots a year ago at the drug habits of Charlie Sheen and Robert Downey Jr, and causing many in the audience to feel uncomfortable, Gervais on Sunday spread the barbs around.

Reality star's Kim Kardashian's 72-day marriage was, he said

longer than many acceptance speeches by "Avatar" director James Cameron.

And Gervais gave Foster the giggles when he quipped that he been told not to mention fallen movie star Mel Gibson "and especially not Jodie Foster's 'Beaver'... I haven't seen it myself but that doesn't mean it's not any good."

George Clooney, who won a best actor Globe for his role in "The Descendants," said Gervais did a great job after all weeks of build-up about just how nasty he might be.

"I think he handled tonight like a proper good host again. I think people were expecting a lot of trash talk, and he did a little bit of that, and he made me laugh. He was very funny," Clooney told reporters.

Gervais couldn't resist a few digs at struggling TV network NBC, which broadcasts the Globes, and the HFPA. The Hollywood Foreign Press, he said "do an awful lot for charity and they're a nonprofit organization. Just like NBC."

The co-creator of "The Office" didn't have it all his own way. Pop star Madonna, both a Golden Globe song winner for her film "W.E" and later a presenter, shot back after Gervais introduced her by stringing together some of her old song titles.

"If I'm just 'like a virgin' Ricky, why don't you come over here and do something about it?" Madonna asked. "I haven't kissed a girl in a few years -- on TV." Madonna added.

Best comedy/musical actress winner Michelle Williams told reporters she was enjoying the show "I've just been laughing. I haven't heard him make fun of me so maybe my laughter will turn to tears," she said.

Gervais left his most stinging remarks until the very end of the award show, telling the now wined and dined celebrities.

"Hope you enjoyed the champagne and the goodie bag and the gold (sprinkled on the dessert). Hope it took your mind off the recession."

(Additional reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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