NEW YORK – Just moments into the Golden Globes telecast, Jennifer Lopez arrived onstage to present the night's first award. Oh, goodie!
Then she shushed the A-list crowd so she could be heard above their chatter. Even better!
From the get-go, "The 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards" lived up to its tradition of (a) doling out trophies without time-wasting ceremony while (b) giving viewers their own table in a Hollywood ballroom jammed with wining-and-dining glitterati.
What else do you really need for an awardscast?
Come to think of it, every awards show can use Ricky Gervais, as he demonstrated on the otherwise dreary Emmycast last September with his sparkling appearance as a presenter.
The Globes were smart enough to book him, too. The cheeky British writer-comic-actor stepped on stage with a glass of what looked like ale in hand and began his own brand of shushing the room.
"How rude are you?" he mock-scolded everybody. "Just cause you're film stars!"
A past Globes winner for his series "Extras," Gervais noted that he wasn't up for an award this year.
"It's a little bit annoying," he said. "I think it detracts from the credibility of ANY awards show, me not being nominated. I'm like staff, at the moment."
Any awards show should make sure Gervais is on staff.
Presenter Seth Rogen made an unfunny wisecrack about soon-to-be-winner Mickey Rourke (oddly, the Johnny-on-the-spot battalion of cameras didn't show Rourke's reaction).
But later, a camera caught "The Wrestler" director Darren Aronofsky affectionately flipping off Rourke, his star, up on stage.
Hey, it's the Golden Globes!
But it wasn't all levity.
Winning posthumously as best supporting actor for "The Dark Knight," Heath Ledger was honored with a standing ovation before the film's director, Christopher Nolan, somberly accepted for the deceased actor.
The party paused for the lifetime achievement tribute to Steven Spielberg. But if you're going to do a lifetime achievement tribute, why not for Spielberg?
"There are so many people in this room who I know, and who are my friends and colleagues," he said.
The spirit of the Globes broadcast is to make viewers feel the same way, as if all those luminaries are their friends, too — at least, for a night.
Airing on NBC Sunday, the three-hour Globes special was in fine form after going MIA a year ago. The '08 blowout, of course, was canceled as a result of the Hollywood writers strike. A bare-bones announcement show was aired in its place.
But as the meager number of viewers who tuned in last year realized, who wins isn't the point. Not when the winners are absent.
The fun of watching the Globes is a sight like Tracy Morgan accepting the trophy for "30 Rock" (rather than his co-star and the show's creator, Tina Fey) because Barack Obama won the election, or so Morgan explained. After that, he went on a wacky tear, happily thanking everyone he could think of.
Viewers had to be happy, too, with the party back on.