Jimmy Fallon Puts His Spin on the Golden Globes

From his “La La Land” spoof to his teleprompter snafu ad-libs, the “Tonight Show” host set a fresh tone for the 73-year-old awards show.

Jimmy Fallon’s hot cold open to the Golden Globes – an elaborate spoof of the musical “La La Land” – recalled his breakout 2010 Emmys hosting gig (remember his mobile, star-studded “Born to Run” number?) and Billy Crystal’s Oscars glory years.

But it didn’t exactly smack of typical Golden Globe Awards fare.

Not that it mattered one bit. The cameo-stuffed filmed segment, brimming with everything from the Esther Williams-like swimming pool resurrection of Barb from “Stranger Things” to a soaring, starry-night, mano-a-mano dance with Justin Timberlake, instantly set a fresh tone for the 73-year-old awards show.

In the first five minutes of Sunday night’s broadcast on NBC, Jimmy Fallon succeeded in putting his own spin on the Golden Globes.

The intricately choreographed opener got the stars involved from the start, counter-intuitively adding to the Globes’ traditional loose, anything-can-happen vibe. Fallon received a blessing in disguise when his teleprompter failed as he walked onto the stage at the Beverly Hilton. That offered him an opportunity to ad-lib and later crack: “I just got off the phone with Mariah Carey – she thinks Dick Clark Productions sabotaged my monologue,” a reference to the singer's New Year's Eve woes.

Fallon also got a familiar helping hand from “Tonight Show” bandleader Questlove, who did some spinning of his own as the on-stage DJ, adding to the party atmosphere at an event where the chatty Hollywood crowd is known to imbibe.

While he’s far from a political comic, Fallon got laughs with jokes about the looming Donald Trump presidency, in a style that evoked his legendary “Tonight Show” forerunner Johnny Carson.

Without using the T-word, Fallon likened the incoming chief executive to King Joffrey of “Game of Thrones.” He noted that the Golden Globes are “one of the few places left where America still honors the popular vote.” He observed that the searing drama “Manchester by the Sea” proved the “only thing in 2016 that was more depressing than 2016.”

Fallon’s approach stood in contrast to more pointed political comments spoken by some of the award winners (“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners and if we kick ‘em all out, we’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts!” Meryl Streep declared to thunderous applause while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award).

Fallon’s amiable overall performance also stood in contrast to his recent harder-edged Globes predecessors – Ricky Gervais, who came armed with a beer and barbs for his four stints (2010 to 2012 and 2016), and Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who tapped their improv background during their rollicking 2013-to-2015 run (“I can’t stress enough how little we will prepare until very close to the show,” Poehler said in 2013).

Poehler likely was exaggerating for the sake of humor. But intentionally or otherwise, her comment represented a knock at the Academy Awards, which are filled with production numbers often months in the making.

Next month’s Oscars are slated to be hosted by Fallon’s late night rival, Jimmy Kimmel, who likely would be more at home delivering a sardonic Gervais-style Globes act than a major musical spoof.

The energetic Fallon, who came to the Globes prepared, made the most of his screen time, which was largely limited to segment segues (including a rap intro to rhyming award-presenting team Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain) after the first 10 minutes of the three-hour-plus broadcast.

But like “La La Land,” Sunday night’s big winner, his performance emerged as an early favorite and the one to beat this awards season.

Jere Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

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