Upon hearing that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were named hosts for the Golden Globes, I felt ambivalent. This, I assure you, is a good sign.
When Seth MacFarlane got the Oscars hosting gig, I went through a Kübler-Ross gamut of emotions before accepting the inanity of hiring a guy known more behind the scenes (Family Guy, Ted) than as a performer, whose edginess will be watered down like a casino cocktail because of the show’s broad audience. At least the smugness will remain intact.
Not foaming at the mouth over the hiring of Poehler and Fey—hey, do you know she’s from Upper Darby!—is my endorsement. They’re affable and smart and can work within the confines of network television. It almost makes too much sense. I didn’t throw a parade over online banking or text messaging, so I’m not going to celebrate an announcement that should have been made in 2006.
Sportswriter Bill Simmons wrote that studio analysts should be hired based on whether they could deliver a funny best man’s speech. The same logic applies to award show emcees. Yet, for years and years, show organizers have not asked this question. I think they’ve based their decisions on something else.
1. Who do the kids like right now? This is how we get James Franco, who displayed the charisma of a Starbucks barista on his third shift and two credits shy of his master’s, co-hosting the Academy Awards with Anne Hathaway.
2. Get us an old pro! We know all their tricks, so they become caricatures incapable of surprising us. Or they just wear out their welcome. Whoopi Goldberg will be edgy—and wearisome! Bill Crystal will deliver Hollywood hamminess with a side of sarcasm! Robin Williams will be manic!
Example: I have a love-hate relationship with the Academy Awards. One year, I decided not to watch when Crystal was hosting. The following day, my co-worker bounced into the office, eager to share how funny Crystal was. I then recalled his opening monologue like a defensive whiz predicting the Eagles third-down offense. (It’s probably best that I work from home now.)
3. We’ll get late-night royalty to host! Late-night comedy, unless it’s from the robot that wears Jay Leno’s skin, is edgier and loose-limbed. It doesn’t play well for a mixed crowd. I remember David Letterman, whom I love, hosting the Academy Awards in 1995 and being stunned at the awkward silence. Some people thrive in their domains.
4. Let’s anoint a rising star! Isn’t that what talk shows and guest hosting Saturday Night Live are for—not guiding events with a humongous worldwide audience? That’s why I’m very uneasy about MacFarlane hosting. And why I’d feel better if Ben Affleck or John Goodman were on board.
5. Irony is hot right now. Hire a contrarian. As much as Ricky Gervais was a breath of fresh air for the Golden Globes, a host should consider that people love these events (and their honorees), even considering them historic. Some appreciation is required.