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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Richard Roeper

Golden Globes kick off with uneasy laughs as Jerrod Carmichael pulls back the curtain

Host Jerrod Carmichael opens the 80th Golden Globe Awards on Tuesday. (NBC)

“I’ll tell you why I’m here. I’m here because I’m Black. I’ll catch everyone in the room up. … This show … did not air last year because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, I won’t say they were a racist organization, but they didn’t have a single Black member until George Floyd died.” – Golden Globes host Jerrod Carmichael, immediately addressing the White Elephant in the room in his opening monologue.

Jerrod Carmichael didn’t come to play. He came to pull back the curtain and give us the inside story on how he was asked to host the Golden Globes, how much he was paid and why he decided to take the job, whether the Hollywood Foreign Press had really changed or not. (Spoiler alert: The half-million dollars didn’t hurt.)

“One minute you’re making a mint tea at home, the next you’re invited to be the Black face of an embattled white organization,” cracked Carmichael, who literally took a seat on the steps of the stage at one point, as if he were chatting up a room of old friends and not performing in front of a star-studded audience that laughed, at times uneasily, at Carmichael’s relatively somber routine.

Before we were 10 minutes into the NBC telecast Tuesday night, Carmichael had introduced Jennifer Hudson, who announced the movie supporting actor winner was Ke Huy Quan for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and the parade of awards had begun.

Angela Bassett accepts a Golden Globe for her supporting work in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” (NBC)

Angela Bassett won for her supporting role in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” drawing a standing ovation from the audience in the crowded ballroom at the Beverly Hilton and delivering a heartfelt, inspirational speech as Hudson looked on with tears in her eyes and Bassett’s husband, Courtney B. Vance, recorded the speech on his iPhone like a proud hubby at the local talent show.

Next up was Jennifer Coolidge, who sounded EXACTLY like Tanya from “The White Lotus” (or perhaps it’s the other way around) in a hilarious, rambling routine before presenting the best supporting actor award in a TV series to Tyler James Williams of “Abbott Elementary.”

So yes, the Golden Globes have returned to network television.

For now.

Without a long-term commitment.

After a series of ethical lapses and controversies that resulted in the Globes disappearing from NBC and threatened with extinction, the HFPA made a series of sweeping changes and came back to NBC — and presto! Stars aplenty turned out for the obligatory parade of entrants, although the carpet was gray instead of the traditional red, and the proceedings were held under a tent due to the rains.

Still, it was a return to form for the Globes, with everyone from Bassett to Jenna Ortega to Viola Davis to Eddie Redmayne to Jessica Chastain to Margot Robbie to Austin Butler sporting spectacular fashions. (Kudos to reporters from Deadline, Variety and the Los Angeles Times for asking stars and directors about their decision to return to their Globes. The answers were thoughtful, as most everyone said they believed enough progress had been shown for them to return to the Globes.)

This being 2023, the actual actors and filmmakers were joined by a number of influencers, as evidenced by this entry on NBC’s website:

“TikTok stars Boman Martinez-Reid, Davis Burleson, Tefi Pessoa, Emily Uribe and Robyn DelMonte have arrived on the red carpet. Podcasters Noel and Aleena Miller and Kelsey Kreppel are also in attendance.”

Be still my heart.

(Then again, given the audiences those aforementioned personalities command, I’d invite ’em to my party too!)

For years, the Globes made for entertaining TV, with the stars enjoying the looser atmosphere and the open bar at the Beverly Hilton Hotel as they were seated at round tables like guests at a wedding reception where the champagne never stopped flowing. There were always some concerns and loud whispers about the legitimacy of the HFPA, which despite that lofty moniker was a collection of fewer than 100 entertainment journalists, some with dubious credentials.

After a 2021 investigation by the Los Angeles Times shined a spotlight on financial and ethical problems revealing there was not a single Black member of the HFPA. It was also discovered HFPA members and staffers were paid more than $3 million total in salaries and other compensation and were enjoying perks that put them in a compromising position, e.g., an expenses-paid, luxury excursion to Paris to visit the set of the Netflix series “Emily in Paris.”

With various media companies, advertisers and creative forces vowing to boycott the Globes, Tom Cruise saying he would return his three Globes and stars such as Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo joining the criticism, NBC declined to telecast the 2022 Globes. The HFPA vowed to make changes, from widening its membership (which now includes six Black members) to adding 103 unpaid international voters. Other reforms included hiring diversity advisers and becoming a for-profit endeavor with a philanthropic division, in the interest of transparency.

These changes were enough to prompt NBC to announce they would put the Globes back on the air in 2023 — but it’s a one-year deal that is reportedly far less lucrative than past deals worth tens of millions of dollars per year.

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