For two years running, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have been the Golden Globes’ hosts with the most. Ratings have skyrocketed (hitting a 10-year high in 2014), critics have raved and they’ve won over the star-studded ballroom audience with ease. But, like Ricky Gervais before them, their reign is set to end after year three.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Globes was the one major award show that didn’t even bother having a host. That changed when Gervais brought his particularly British brand of wise-ass humor to the table in 2010 and transformed the already rollicking kudocast into a true watercooler (and social media) event.
Globes executive producer Barry Adelman believes Fey and Poehler took the groundwork that Gervais laid and brought it to a whole new level.
“I think by having a host, especially Tina and Amy, the show has a stronger image. It has more of a focus, it’s easier to promote,” Adelman says. “People look forward to hearing what they’re going to say and seeing them come back once they leave the stage. All of that adds to the anticipation and the fun of the evening. It adds a chemistry that you can’t possibly have with no host.”
Although both are established and award-winning writers and actresses in their own right — headlining critically acclaimed comedies “30 Rock” and “Parks and Recreation” — Fey and Poehler’s friendship dates back to 1993, when they met at Chicago’s Improv Olympic.
The dynamic duo went on to share the stage at NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and co-star in the features “Mean Girls,” “Baby Mama” and the upcoming “Sisters.” Their unique mix of improv background and a shared history has been an essential factor in their success at the Globes.
“I think it’s going to go down in entertainment history, seriously, as one of the great duos who have ever appeared in movies, television and award shows,” Adelman says. “You can really sense that they like each other and enjoy being together. It’s something you don’t see that often on television.”
In the past two years, these comedy pros have proven they’re up for anything. Whether that means Poehler cuddling with George Clooney during the presentation of lead actress in a TV comedy series in 2013, or working with Julia Louis-Dreyfus (a dual contender last year for “Enough Said” and “Veep”) to craft a comedic riff on the disparate treatment of film and TV nominees. (When she was seated in the film section, Louis-Dreyfus sported sunglasses, a cigarette and a haughty attitude. In TV, she chowed down on a hot dog.)
Not everything can be planned in advance, making the hosts’ ability to think on their feet a must. Adelman recalls the heightened security and secrecy around a surprise appearance in 2013 by former President Clinton, who was presenting the nomination package for Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” Nearly everyone was kept in the dark before Clinton appeared, including Fey and Poehler. Immediately after the former POTUS left the stage, Poehler swiftly ad libbed, “Do you realize? That was Hillary Clinton’s husband!”
“It’s a difficult room to control,” acknowledges Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. president Theo Kingma, who says that adds to the level of difficulty in the hosting gig. “You have 1,300 people in the ballroom. People walk around, mingle, it’s a party atmosphere that gets stronger and stronger the more and more we’re into the show. You need some real high-caliber talents.”
After this year’s show, attention will turn to finding the next person (or duo) capable of handling the task.
“We do have a short list but it’s going to be a big job,” Kingma says.
“I’m just going to enjoy this final appearance” for Fey and Poehler, Adelman adds. “I hope maybe they change their mind and come back, but I’m not even going to think past this year. I want this to be a great send-off. That’s what I’m concentrating on.”