NEW YORK — For their third and (so they say) final year, co-hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey proved themselves yet again the Golden Girls of the Golden Globes awardscast, airing live on NBC Sunday night.
They didn't spare North Korea or the embattled Sony comedy "The Interview": Poehler said that nation's demands that the film be suppressed ended up "forcing us to pretend we wanted to see it."
A certain scandal-beset comedian felt their sting, too. In describing the best movie musical nominee "Into the Woods," Poehler said "Sleeping Beauty just THOUGHT she was getting coffee with Bill Cosby."
They even tweaked the Golden Globes itself, which tends to focus on films at the expense of TV:
"Let's talk about television," said Poehler late in their duologue, at which point Fey abruptly cut her off: "I'm being told that we're running out of time."
Further razzing North Korea was a character played by Margaret Cho: a stern, goose-stepping North Korean Army general and the newest member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association voicing a collection of complaints about Hollywood as well as the Globes: "I think 'Orange is the New Black' should be in Drama category," rather than Comedy, she barked in broken English. "It funny, but not ha-ha funny."
The bit scored a twofer: It leveled a comedic take-that at North Korea, while making some viewers cringe at its borderline racism.
Billy Bob Thornton, winner of best actor in a TV miniseries, had a tough act to follow once his name was called: Jennifer Lopez, whose cleavage-baring gown prompted her co-presenter, Jeremy Renner, to make the evening's most obvious wisecrack. After JLo said she had the nails to open the envelope, Renner muttered, "You have the globes, too."
Thornton, observing moments later that "you can say anything in the world and get in trouble," declared, "I'm just gonna say thank you." Then he did and took his leave.
Otherwise reliable wags Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig flopped as co-presenters for best screenplay. Their routine, meant to demonstrate the vital nature of the writer's contribution, seemed to have been dashed off at the last minute. Note to this pair: Next time, consider a rewrite. Another thing that didn't work: Whatever it was that made most people look orange rather than tan.
Who wasn't moved by Jeffrey Tambor? Viewers beheld that old pro, his rich baritone trembling with emotion at winning as best actor in a TV comedy for "Transparent" (the Amazon series in which he plays a transgender character) as he thanked his colleagues for helping him "find more of Jeffrey than I have ever found in my entire life" — before dedicating his award to "the transgender community."
Nomination for funniest say-what? line: Tina Fey declaring "Our next presenter is a woman who's known by only one name: Winfrey!"
Nomination for best acceptance-speech sound bite: Kevin Spacey, receiving his first-ever Globe for his performance in Netflix's "House of Cards": "I just want it to be better. I just want to be better. But this (award) is very encouraging."
Nomination for best "aww" moment, thanks to George Clooney as he gazed from the stage to the table where his new wife, Amal Clooney, was beaming back at him: "It's a humbling thing when you find someone to love."
That reflected the tone of the Globes. It wasn't the usual cheeky, boozy party — at least, from the viewers' standpoint. Instead it was a kinder, gentler Globes this time — perhaps reflective of the killings in Paris. Next year, maybe the party will resume.
Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at [email protected] and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore