The 68th annual Golden Globes veered into Cluedo territory last night as the event's host went missing for nearly an hour. Ricky Gervais's absence from the stage, following an opening monologue that drew more gasps than laughs, led excited observers to speculate that the British comic may have been collared backstage and fired … or worse.
Gervais opened the live telecast by poking exuberant fun at the likes of Tim Allen, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. He claimed to have had to help Philip Berk, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, off the toilet and "put his teeth back in". He introduced Bruce Willis as "Ashton Kutcher's dad" and explained that Johnny Depp's critically panned caper movie The Tourist had only been nominated because the voters of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association "accepted bribes". Neither Willis nor Depp appeared especially amused.Then Gervais went missing, sparking lurid speculation on blogs and Twitter. Where had Gervais gone? Had the host been killed or merely given his marching orders?
A taste of the acidic humor the assembled celebrities were forced to endure before Gervais was allegedly instructed to tone things down:
"The Tourist", starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, was critically panned but won a surprise nomination in the comedy or musical category, in what gossips suggested was a blatant bid to gets its A-list stars to attend Sunday.
If Gervais really was reprimanded or threatened backstage for his merciless performance, that's a shame. Hollywood actors are paid to pretend to be other people. We certainly enjoy their work, but my goodness, they have no reason to take themselves so seriously.
UPDATE - Gervais says the rumor mill is wrong and his "disappearance" was much ado about nothing.