Dick Clark's Golden Globalization
Once, when I worked for Michael Eisner, I called Dick Clark's office to fact-check a detail about Clark's career: the date in the 1970s that he had hosted a show about pregnancy for ABC. Without hesitating, Clark's assistant passed me through to Clark himself, and up came his radio voice on the phone; I giddily asked my question, and he reminisced about the pregnancy show, strolling in the meantime over to a handy archive of TV Guides. Chuckling, he read me the appropriate entry, interpolating details, as if he were a research librarian. I took Dick Clark's sonorous word for it. How could I not?
Clark, who works hard and is eminently detail-oriented, may not mind being considered an ageless camp figure. Better, perhaps, that one dismiss him—oldest living teen, etc.—than realize how much show business he still controls. The fact is that his company, Dick Clark Productions, is behind not just New Year's Rockin' Eve,but the Country Music Awards, the Daytime Emmys, a chain of '50s-themed restaurants, and the Golden Globes—the 60-year-old ceremony of awards presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
And Clark, who is certifiably 73, was front and center at Sunday night's 60th Annual Golden Globe Awards, which he hosted and executive-produced. Though he was by rights in charge, he was as always deferential: Again and again, he ceded the stage—without a trace of imperiousness or Ed Sullivan-style scorn—to younger, cooler stars, just as he used to give it up for James Brown and Run DMC on American Bandstand. Yes, he called Leonardo DiCaprio "Leonard," but on Sunday he was otherwise faultless, landing easily on lines like, "Back here on the red carpet with Bono and the Edge from the U2." And, to Dennis Quaid, "Do you feel any special obligation to the gay community now that you've played a gay character?"
What emerged, as Clark laid low, was a bizarre and fun show. It was a silver-tie affair, with the men—or many of them—in black suits, white shirts, and shiny, dove-colored ties. Dour Gene Hackman, who won the big Cecil B. DeMille award, had stripes on his. Also in vogue were winks, especially by nominees who'd just heard their names called, and acceptance speeches that began, "You have no idea ..." In the meantime, Chicago(which won for best comedy or musical) suffused the night; the song "Razzle-Dazzle 'Em" had been given goofball new lyrics for the occasion.
If the winners had an agenda, it was to reprove the foes of Harvey Weinstein.As best actor in a musical (Chicago), Richard Gere went all out for the big man, calling him "a kindly, wonderful, gentle man that we all deeply love." He then referred to The New Yorker, which published a warty profile of Weinstein in December,and growled. Renée Zellweger, who won for best actress in a musical, echoed the sentiment, praising the mogul's "heart of gold."
Meryl Streep (best supporting actress in a comedy for Adaptation) was appealingly flighty, remarking that she hadn't won anything since the Pleistocene era. Jennifer Aniston (best actress in a comedy series for Friends [NBC]) also looked floored—and physically fragile—accepting her award; maybe her broken foot was bothering her. Happily, Uma Thurman won best actress in a TV movie for Hysterical Blindness (HBO),in which as an actress she outdid herself; at the podium, she looked unusually fantastic. She faltered, however, in a very awkward speech.
All but two actors were reverent about the chipper business of motion pictures, television, and awards shows. Jack Nicholson, who won a best actor award for the drama About Schmidt, appeared hardly to notice he was on stage, noticing instead, aloud, that he was on Valium. Larry David, whose show Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO) won a Globe for best comedy series, shook off the gravity of the night by reprising his hard-to-take stand-up. "This is a sad day for the Golden Globes. It is, however, quite a good day for Larry David. I suspect the wife will be a little forthcoming tonight. ... Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press, for what I hope will be a memorable evening."
The shticky insouciance didn't match the batty jubilation at the Golden Globes, though I'm certain it didn't faze Dick Clark. He's accustomed to picking up a happy pace after bands like the Doors and Pink Floyd, and he has a way of making cynicism seem wasteful but fine, if that's your thing. Together with Lisa Ling and Nancy O'Dell—who helped him through the red-carpet pregame—he didn't miss a note, and he turned out top-flight entertainment. As he always does.
Virginia Heffernan is a television critic for The New York Times. Her book, The Underminer, which she wrote with Mike Albo, comes out in February.
Photograph of Dick Clark by Robert Galbraith/Reuters.