Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, stationed on opposite sides of the country, kicked off the 78th Golden Globe Awards on Sunday with one-liners about the unusual format of the pandemic-era telecast and the renewed scrutiny of the organization behind the show.
“Normally, this room is full of celebrities, but tonight our audience on both coasts is made up of smoking-hot first responders and essential workers,” Fey said from the Rainbow Room in New York. “We are so grateful for the work that you do and that you’re here, so that the celebrities can stay safely at home.”
The coronavirus crisis forced the producers of the Golden Globes to put on a largely virtual telecast, with nominees beamed in from their homes and hotel rooms via Zoom. Poehler, speaking to a small audience of masked guests at the Beverly Hilton in California, jokingly recalled that the ceremony is typically a free-wheeling, champagne-soaked party.
The co-hosts, featured on a split screen, also nodded to the recent criticism of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the small organization of international journalists that votes on nominees and winners — specifically the fact that the group does not have a single Black member.
“The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is made up of around 90 international, no-Black journalists who attend movie junkets each year in search of a better life,” Fey said. “We say around 90, because a couple of them might be ghosts, and it’s rumored that the German member is just a sausage that somebody drew a little face on.”
In the first 30 minutes of the show, which aired on NBC, three members of the group appeared on stage and pledged to diversify their ranks.
“We recognize we have our own work to do. Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organization,” said Helen Hoehne, the association’s vice president.
Meher Tatna, the chairman of the board, added: “We must also ensure everyone from all underrepresented communities gets a seat at our table, and we are going to make that happen.”
Two entertainment industry luminaries received lifetime achievement honors. Norman Lear, the storied creator of seminal sitcoms such as “All in the Family,” was given the Carol Burnett Award, named for the comedian of the same name. Jane Fonda, the trailblazing actor and activist, accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award.
In a passionate speech, Fonda paid tribute to the power of movies to foster empathy and called on Hollywood to push for diversity on screen, behind the camera and in board rooms.
The night included a few technical glitches. The first winner of the night — Daniel Kaluuya of “Judas and the Black Messiah” — began to give his acceptance speech with the sound off. The presenter, Laura Dern, apologized to Kaluuya, who won best supporting actor for his turn as slain Black Panthers leader Fred Hampton.
But then Kaluuya’s sound came on. He jokingly wagged his finger at the camera and said, “You’re doing me dirty!”
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