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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ricky Gervais, the Golden Globes and Fabulous "Brand Britain"



So Ricky Gervais got pulled off the stage at the Golden Globe Awards because his humor was too biting. Give me a break.

Americans love British humor and we also can't get enough of smart, direct British entertainers who verge on the rude:

* Look at American Idol without Simon Cowell. I mean, Aerosmith??? What were they thinking?



* Piers Morgan is, without any effort it seems, stepping in where Larry King has stepped out. He and Sharon Osbourne (Brits Brits Brits) took America's Got Talent from a cheesy, kitschy show to a real talent competition that in many ways was actually better than Idol.



* "SuperNanny" (whoever she is) "invaded" the U.S. and showed us how discipline of a bratty 5 year old AND his parents is done. On that episode where she had the kid stay in bed, by himself, all night even though he woke up the parents like 72 times, I wanted to stand up and cheer.



I was watching the actors in the audience alternately laugh and squirm at the jokes and I thought the whole thing made for amazing TV. So instead of castigating him and apologizing, Hollywood needs to get a life and adopt some of the qualities of Brand Britain when it comes to entertainment. Maybe then we wouldn't need to rely on importing their ideas for our own shows (i.e., The Office, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and tons more), and could come up with some prime-time options worth watching.

All of this matters, and not just because there's nothing to watch on TV since "24" ended its run. The U.S. has done plenty well generating many powerhouse brands, especially in entertainment as in every other field. But where we seem to be challenged right now is in the area of innovation and taking risks. This is hurting every industry that counts on brainpower. In the realm of celebrity-land, perhaps there is so much money at stake that there is a fear of doing anything really different and chancy. But Miss America pageants, high-tech special effects, and fast car chases are a good substitute for actual narrative with actual characters we care about. (And speaking of celebrities, if I see one more celebration of Angelina Jolie, that homewrecker, I am really, really going to throw up.)

In politics, it's good to stay in the middle. But in entertainment, Hollywood needs to go further toward the edge.