Ricky Gervais has promised to mount another unfiltered assault on the most inflated egos in America after he was named as the host of January's Golden Globe awards for a third successive year.
The British comedian was appointed despite – or perhaps because of – his notorious performances at this year's ceremony, when he delivered a lengthy series of scripted jokes aimed at offending Hollywood celebrities in the audience.
At one point, he declared that "two famous Scientologists" were closeted homosexuals. At another, he called Angelina Jolie's acting two-dimensional. Then he broke a third taboo by offering to help Philip Berk, the event's somewhat doddery organiser, to "[get] off the toilet and pop his teeth back in".
In the ensuing controversy, Mr Berk issued a statement saying Gervais had "crossed the line" with "totally unacceptable" comments. Robert Downey Jnr, the subject of another joke, said Gervais's performance was "hugely mean-spirited, with mildly sinister undertones".
The public loved it, though, and NBC, the broadcaster which pays millions of dollars each year for rights to the made-for-TV event, has spent recent months lobbying extensively for Gervais to be invited back to the podium a third time.
Despite reservations, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a private club of 83 journalists which runs the show, voted this week to go along with the plan. Sixteen of the 62 members who cast ballots were opposed to inviting Gervais back.
"While many welcome Gervais's return, not everyone is happy with the decision because last year his blunt one-liners targeting big-name celebrities caused anger and resentment in some quarters," read the HFPA statement announcing his appointment.
Judy Solomon, one of the members opposed to it, told the Los Angeles Times: "My worry was that he was insulting, and when I invite someone to my house, they don't insult me. But this is showbusiness. I guess I'm old-fashioned."
So far, Gervais shows few signs of taking their reservations on board. On Monday, the Reading-born comic pointed followers of his Twitter feed to a YouTube clip of his performance at this year's Globes, promising that the 2012 rendition would be "this times 10". Then he joked that he was already writing "Holocaust [and] paedophile material" to jollify the show. Interviewed on ITV yesterday, Gervais called his critics misguided. "I'm a 50-year-old man. I know what I'm saying and you say it for a reason," he said. "No bad can come from discussing taboo subjects."
Offending material: Gervais on the podium
On Robert Downey Jnr "Many of you in this room probably know him best from such facilities as the Betty Ford Clinic and Los Angeles County Jail."
Robert Downey Jnr "Aside from the fact that it has been hugely mean-spirited, with mildly sinister undertones, I would say the vibe of the show is pretty good so far, wouldn't you?"
On Johnny Depp "I'd like to crush this ridiculous rumour that the only reason The Tourist was nominated was so that the foreign press could hang out with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie... that was not the only reason – they also accepted bribes."
Johnny Depp "I actually thought that was the funniest thing he said that night. He's a very talented guy."Reuse content