How the Golden Globes Are Readying (And Bracing) For Ricky's Return

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Will the stars show up? That was the big concern when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association met Nov. 16 to vote on whether to bring back controversial Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais for another turn.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the HFPA and NBC must vet the host's opening monologue, but ad-libs and sharp barbs are welcome.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. 

Ricky Gervais is fond of predicting just how unpredictable he might be as host of the Golden Globes ceremony. 

“I get final edit on everything,” he told Matt Lauer on NBC’s Dateline recently. “They don’t know what I’m gonna say till I say it.” 

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Turns out that’s not completely true. Gervais does have an unusual degree of freedom over his monologue and other prepared bits, but sources say the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is requiring that Gervais turn over a script for the show a few days before the Jan. 15 telecast. And the comic will rehearse his jokes the day before the show in front of members of the HFPA, producers from ?Dick Clark Productions and top NBC execs, all of whom will have an opportunity to request changes to his act. 

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Of course, once the cameras are rolling and Hollywood’s top film and television stars are assembled in the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton, Gervais is ?free to ad-lib as much as he wants.? But at least one source who saw last year’s rehearsal says nearly ?all of the harsh jokes that made? headlines — the jabs at Robert Downey Jr.’s time in rehab and?jail and referring to Bruce Willis as “Ashton Kutcher’s dad” — were ?part of the rehearsal. 

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NBC also will present the live event with a five-second tape delay to bleep any expletives or other unwanted digressions. Producers know, however, that Gervais’ unpredictable humor is precisely why they brought him back for a third stint as host. Globes ratings were flat last? year at about 17 million viewers, ?but many expect that number? to jump this time thanks to ?the Gervais buzz from his 2011 performance. 

“You can’t muzzle him,”?says an HFPA spokesperson,?“ and I don’t think anybody has? any desire to muzzle him.”