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To say events producer extraordinaire Barry Adelman took a circuitous route to become the executive producer of this year’s Golden Globes broadcast would be an understatement. After all, how many producers have written jokes for Sonny and Cher and eulogized Elvis Presley?
While he simply calls it “sort of an amazing thing in my life,” Adelman came to eulogize The King as a writer in the late 1970s for comedian Jackie Kahane, who delivered said tribute in 1977. That was around the time Adelman was getting his start in TV, as a writer on the final year of “The Sonny & Cher Show.”
These days Adelman is executive vp of television at Dick Clark Prods., where he’s worked since the mid-’80s producing audience pleasers like the Academy of Country Music Awards, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and the Family Television Awards.
When asked what draws him to such high-profile projects, the gregarious Adelman is quick to single out the fast-paced, creative environment that broadcast television offers.
“There’s an excitement (because) the producer parallels the director in a movie, in that you can execute your vision in a very creative way,” he says, adding that the process is still a collaborative one. Indeed, while he frequently works closely with Dick Clark Prods. president Orly Adelson, for the Globes he also works in partnership with the awarding body, NBC and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. “Thank God they control the seating, because I wouldn’t want to get into that,” he laughs.
The 67th annual ceremony, airing Jan. 17, will reinstate the hosting tradition that ended in 1996, the first year Adelman produced the event. “I was a major part of that decision,” he notes. “You just need a special person to do it. That year (the) special person wasn’t available, and we just said, ‘Let’s let Hollywood host this.’ ” Such might have been the case this year, were it not for British comedian Ricky Gervais’ availability.
“If Gervais had not wanted to do it, it’s very likely we might be hostless again,” Adelman says. “We like to say it’s the show where anything can happen. He’s certainly a performer that gives that impression.”
All of which serves Adelman’s “spontaneous party” vision for the Globes well. It’s an approach that has led to some wonderfully unplanned moments, including Christine Lahti being in the ladies’ room when she won in 1998 and Ving Rhames giving his award to Jack Lemmon the same year. “Whatever happens will happen, and we will find a way to deal with it,” Adelman says.
But it’s not just about celebrities for Adelman — there’s a very personal side to the show as well. “Through these shows I’ve gotten to meet and write for people that were very important to me growing up,” he says. “You get to meet your heroes. I got to write a sketch for (Monty Python’s) Graham Chapman. I got to salute Muhammad Ali for a show we did. Anytime I’m allowed to create and set up a moment that touches somebody who has touched me, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”
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