- - Monday, January 16, 2012

Tamer Gervais leads to predictable Globes show

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association dared to let Ricky Gervais come back and host the Golden Globe Awards a year after he insulted the organization and nearly everyone in the star-studded room with his lacerating wit.

But Mr. Gervais and the show seemed tamer and more predictable this year, not quite living up to outrageous reputations. Even the winners, including “The Descendants” and its star, George Clooney, were predictable.

The victory for “The Descendants” in the best drama category sets it up for an expected battle at the Academy Awards with “The Artist,” which won the award for best musical or comedy. Oscar nominations will be announced Jan. 24, with the ceremony itself coming Feb. 26.

Mr. Clooney won for his portrayal of a middle-aged husband struggling to raise his two daughters while their mother is in a coma. Jean Dujardin won the same award in the musical or comedy category for “The Artist” as a silent film actor whose career derails with the arrival of sound.

While Mr. Gervais dropped an F-bomb a couple hours into the broadcast - likely an accident after some imbibing on and offstage - he also took aim at easy targets like Kim Kardashian. Later, wineglass in hand, he emerged from the wings to express delight in having “a job where you can get drunk and say what you want, and they still pay you.”

Even Meryl Streep - the grand dame of them all, who won for best actress in a drama for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady” - let an expletive slip during her acceptance speech. Miss Streep got flustered when she realized she had forgotten her glasses at her table. She winged it, giving a rambling (but gracious) speech praising performances by other actresses, including some who hadn’t even been nominated that night.

Two of Hollywood’s most veteran and esteemed directors also were winners, and both were venturing into 3-D for the first time: Martin Scorsese for best director for the family fantasy “Hugo” and Steven Spielberg for best animated film for “The Adventures of Tintin.”

Things were much fresher and more inspired on the television side of the ceremony, with daring shows earning honors and longtime stars going home with statues for new roles.

“Homeland” on Showtime, which explores terrorism and an Iraq war veteran, earned awards for best drama and best actress in a drama for star Claire Danes. Former “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer won best actor in a drama for Starz’s “Boss,” while former “Friends” star Matt LeBlanc won best actor in a musical or comedy for Showtime’s “Episodes.”

ABC’s “Modern Family” was the big winner among commercial broadcast networks, following up its Emmy for best television comedy by winning the Golden Globe.

ABC gives ‘Work It’ a quick pink slip

ABC’s “Work It” is off duty. The network said Saturday that the sitcom about two men who dress as women to look for work is off the schedule after just two episodes aired. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation protested the series, saying it mocked the transgender community.

“Work It” attracted little interest from viewers. The Nielsen company said the second episode on Tuesday was seen by fewer than 5 million people.

FX president concedes Sheen sitcom a gamble

The head of the FX network said Sunday he still hasn’t seen a script for Charlie Sheen’s new sitcom, “Anger Management,” which is due to premiere in June.

That’s a little late, conceded John Landgraf, FX president and general manager. It illustrates the grand gamble made by the cable network, one with a potentially big payoff.

FX usually produces its own series, and Mr. Landgraf said he has never ordered one without seeing a pilot episode, much less a script. “Anger Management,” loosely based on the 2003 movie about a troubled therapist who disrupts his patients’ lives, is produced by Debmar-Mercury, a subsidiary of the Lionsgate production company.

Mr. Landgraf said he has faith in Bruce Helford, former producer of “The Drew Carey Show” and the creative force behind the new series.

The executive said he has met with Mr. Sheen and is confident the actor is trying to pull his life together following the drug-fueled meltdown that led to his firing from CBS’ “Two and a Half Men.”

FX has ordered 10 episodes of “Anger Management” and will pair it on the schedule with reruns of “Two and a Half Men.” It expects a strong debut for curiosity reasons. If it does well after that, FX will consider ordering 90 more, which would put FX in the lucrative business of being able to sell repeats of the show in syndication to other networks.

It’s all a bet, Mr. Landgraf said.

“Could I be spectacularly wrong about this bet?” he asked. “Yes.”

Hulu to broadcast original scripted series

Hulu will broadcast its first original scripted series next month, a political comedy that will debut during the real-life Republican presidential primary.

The online video service is ramping up its rivalry with Netflix Inc.

Aimed squarely at an audience loyal to cutting-edge comedy such as “The Office” and “The Colbert Report,” Hulu’s new show “Battleground” is a look at the inner workings of a Democratic primary campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Wisconsin. It was created by J.D. Walsh, an actor who worked for Sen. John Kerry during a political campaign.

Hulu’s foray into original scripted programming follows an investment in the Morgan Spurlock documentary series “A Day in the Life,” which debuted in August and soon will launch into a second season.

Hulu also announced it would make “Up to Speed,” a non-scripted series that looks at historic nooks and crannies of notable destinations around America.

The shows will be available on both the free and paid versions of Hulu.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.