Golden Globes: NBC Boss Explains How Jimmy Fallon Was Lured to Host (Q&A)

Bob Greenblatt -Publicity-H 2016
Art Streiber/NBC

Bob Greenblatt said the 'Tonight Show' host is always "our first choice for any of these things."

With all due respect to Ricky Gervais, Jimmy Fallon long has been NBC's top choice to host the Golden Globes.

Hours after making the announcement on Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt for more on how the deal came together. One thing was clear: The network chief had been courting Fallon for several years.

Though the specifics of the awards show are yet to be determined, Greenblatt spoke candidly about the many times he approached the Tonight Show frontman and what he'd like to see when Fallon takes the Golden Globes stage live on Jan. 8.

Why Fallon? Did you want to go in a different direction than [Ricky Gervais]?

First of all, we're so happy that he wanted to do it. But yeah, he wanted to do it. We would never force him to do it — we couldn't.

Did he approach you?

Honest to God, he's our first choice for any of these things. Back a few years ago, when we thought about who was going to step in for Ricky and we got to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the first person we always go to is Jimmy. No disrespect to Tina and Amy, but he had just done the Emmys. So it didn't make any sense to have him do another awards show right away for us. And then we were lucky enough to get Tina and Amy and we got them for three years. So OK, that was set. And then they decided, "Three years, we've done it — we're finished." And we went to Jimmy again and said, "Do you want to do it now?" For a variety of reasons, he didn't want to do it last year. We were all happy to have Ricky come back. He's the bad boy, right? And then a few months ago, we always sit down with the HFPA [Hollywood Foreign Press Association] and Dick Clark [Productions] and talk about the next season and who we're going to look at for the host this year. I said, "I'll go back to the No. 1 choice again. I don't think he'll say yes because he's very selective, but let's see." And lo and behold, he was like, "You know what? I think this is the year to do it — I'd really like to do it."

Did you approach Ricky again after last year?

No, we didn't. We always go to Jimmy. Jimmy is our biggest star and the perfect guy for this kind of a show. I honestly didn't think he would want to do it. But yeah, we always go to Jimmy first.

Would you want Ricky to have any kind of role at all? Any sort of opening bit?

I have no idea. I'd have to talk to my partners about that. But I wouldn't rule it out.

What can we expect from Jimmy as host?

We haven't talked about any of it specifically, but I think it's going to be Jimmy being funny, light and clever. He'll make fun of the industry because that's the point of any awards show, but it'll be in his own way. He's the ultimate fan and people come on his show and they play games and it's fun; it's not an antagonistic kind of thing. I'm sure the tone will be in that area, but I have no idea what he'll want to do.

But he won't be as biting as, say, Ricky has been?

I think you are who you are. I wouldn't ask Jimmy to suddenly be a satirical guy and I wouldn't ask that of any host of any show. When [Seth Meyers] did the Emmys for us a couple years ago, he was just sorta Seth and when Jimmy did it, he was just Jimmy. Hopefully he'll be musical and do some of the stuff he's so good at that nobody else does quite like he does. There's not a ton of time in the show — we're going to try to figure out how to get more time for him because he's great. But that's all to be determined. It's a show that's crowded with awards, like any awards show, so I think we'll do what we can, but I couldn't be happier.