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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "I warned them." Returning Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais did indeed let it be known that he wasn't going to hold back in skewering Hollywood's most famous celebrities. And, in what will undoubtedly be his last hosting gig for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (and, who knows, maybe any Stateside awards) he didn't disappoint.
But in the process of making searingly funny jokes at more than just the obvious targets (Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, the HFPA itself), the heat he put into the punch lines might have made him more of the story than the actual winners.
And yet, it made for compelling -- if sometimes wince-inducing -- television. Given the staid lameness of most awards shows -- hello, Emmys -- at least he kept those who are not in the industry laughing uproariously. (His "I warned them" line came after a particularly funny joke about Hugh Hefner's new fiancee, complete with physical comedy and facial expressions).
Gervais' biting lines were scattered at various stars (and movies like The Tourist), with not everyone taking kindly to the treatment. Bruce Willis seemed miffed to be called the father of Ashton Kutcher, Robert Downey Jr. seemed to take slight umbrage about his rehab past (before going into his own salacious and super speech), etc. Even when the jokes weren't directed at them, some stars took gentle swipes back, as when Tom Hanks, who just received a rave recitation of his career achievement from Gervais, protected Tim Allen, who received none.
Gervais's jokes were so incendiary that when he went missing during the second half of the show, the Twitterverse lit up with suggestions that he'd been fired backstage. Clearly, Gervais had done so much damage entertaining the viewers at home (or appalling them, depending on their belief in decorum), that he became the story of the night.
But so what? The Globes are considered one of the best, if not the best, awards show on television because of this feeling that anything goes and Champagne-fueled winners and presenters could say just about anything. Adding Gervais into the mix last year was exactly the kind of tone that seemed to fit the primetime party and as funny as he was this year, there's little doubt many in the industry will think he went too far.
The trouble is, the awards are for the people in the business, but the show itself is for the viewers at home. There's only so much sycophantic back-slapping anyone can take without a little needling to burst the ego bubble.
But if Gervais wasn't intending to come back, which is what he's said prior, he sure went out swinging, thanking all the right people -- the HFPA, NBC, the stars in the room for being good sports, then ending with, "And God, for making me an atheist."
That pretty much sealed it, one would suspect.