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Gervais promised to be 'nice' at Golden Globes, but couldn't

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Jan 10 (Reuters) - Comedian Ricky Gervais promised to be “nice” but wasted no time in tweaking Hollywood’s top stars with his acerbic British wit upon his return to hosting the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday.

“Joy” actress and winner Jennifer Lawrence, 25, was pilloried for her $52 million paycheck, Golden Globes organizers the Hollywood Foreign Press Association saw their trophy tarnished and Sean Penn took a hit when Gervais dubbed him a “snitch” for his secret interview of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

“I am going to do this monologue and then go into hiding. Not even Sean Penn will find me,” Gervais joked in his monologue. He took a swig of beer and added “Snitch.” Penn was not in attendance.

“Relax, I’m going to try and be nice,” he said after a few quips. “I’ve changed. Not as much as Bruce Jenner, obviously. Now Caitlyn Jenner, of course.”

Welcome back, Ricky!

Nobody in an audience that included the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington, Jane Fonda, and Taraji P. Henson, was safe. Gervais opened by hushing their applause and saying “Shut up, you disgusting, pill-popping, sexual deviant scum.”

Gervais created the smash hit comedy “The Office” and has built a career with his razor-sharp take on people’s everyday faults - even the stars.

In past Golden Globes from 2010-2012, he has insulted the Kardashians, Madonna, Jodie Foster, Mel Gibson and British royal Kate Middleton.

On Sunday, he talked of keeping his own Golden Globe statuette for “The Office” by his bed to use as a sex toy.

“And they asked me to host four times!” Gervais said with a big smile.

“Ricky, thank you for your support,” HFPA President Lorenzo Soria said onstage, after a jab at Soria’s abililty “to get you all depressed” with a speech.

After Gervais last hosted the show in 2012, many Hollywood watchers thought he might never be asked to return. The HFPA turned to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in the past three years.

When Fey and Poehler did not return for 2016, Gervais was asked back and he sought to put the Hollywood awards in proper perspective.

“Listen, if you do win tonight, remember no one cares about that award as much as you do,” he said. (Editing by Jill Serjeant and Mary Milliken)