Entertainment behind the scenes
The day after the Golden Globes, and, in Britain at least, there is as much media chatter about show host Ricky Gervais and his no-holds-barred approach as there is about Colin Firth’s acting award for his portrayal of the stammering King George VI in “The King’s Speech”.
Normally the reaction on this side of the pond to major U.S. movie award shows is to champion the victorious Brits, or otherwise bemoan their failure. This year would have been no exception — joy for Firth, otherwise disappointment for the film about the British monarchy — were it not for Gervais and his less-than-gentle jokes that took aim at, among others, Charlie Sheen, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp of “The Tourist”, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Cher, the actresses in Sex and the City, prominent Scientologists and Hugh Hefner.
The Gawker website’s reaction summed up its jaw-dropping bluntness: “Holy wow. Ricky Gervais … just opened the show with one of the most unrelentingly harsh and uncomfortable monologues in awards history.”
Some of the stars there on the night felt the need to hit back — Robert Downey Jr., the butt of one of Gervais’ less-than-flattering jibes, suggested that the host’s words were “hugely mean-spirited, with mildly sinister undertones”. The LA Times called the event a “snarkfest” and wrote of the “corrosive tone” Gervais set. Reflecting how taken aback some viewers were with his repartee, there was even online speculation that he had been sacked mid-show when he failed to appear for nearly an hour.
Hugh Hefner — media mogul, millionaire lades man, porn baron, feminist icon. …
Umm, feminist icon?
That last description doesn’t exactly jump to mind when discussing the founder of Playboy magazine and its numerous adult-oriented offshoots in publishing and on television. Yet, a new documentary screening here at the Toronto International Film Festival, “Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist & Rebel” shines a different light on Hef’s past — his work in the feminist and civil rights movements — and considers the notion that his Playboy empire has been a vehicle for female empowerment.