Golden Globes co-host Tina Fey -- in one of many barbs directed at the entertainment industry during the awards show Sunday -- explained why she and Amy Poehler had been brought back to anchor the gala a second time:
"Because this is Hollywood," she said. "And if something kind of works, they'll just keep doing it until everybody hates it."
They don't hate it yet. Sunday night's telecast of the 71st Golden Globe Awards on NBC drew an average of 20.9 million viewers, the biggest audience for the show in 10 years.
Total viewership for the telecast increased 6% from last year, when Fey and Poehler -- from NBC's "30 Rock" and "Parks and Recreation," respectively -- first hosted. Compared with two years ago, when English comedian Ricky Gervais returned to the gig with his politically incorrect sensibility, the numbers were up 24%.
Why the high numbers? Perhaps because the gently profane show was unpredictable, drew a massive number of top celebrities to its Beverly Hilton auditorium and got a huge assist from social media.
The social media interest may have benefited from the night's unscripted feel. The show generated nearly 2.4 million tweets, which reached an online Twitter audience of 10.4 million people, according to Nielsen SocialGuide.
Winners Jennifer Lawrence and the TV show "Breaking Bad" drove a lot of Twitter traffic, but so did the moment at which Poehler celebrated winning an acting award for her role on "Parks & Recreation" by kissing U2 frontman Bono.
Several other surprises and goofs stoked the show's "did-you-see-that?" aspect.
The censors were kept busy preventing curse words from going live, but allowed an expletive to escape from the mouth of award-winner Jacqueline Bisset.
Later, when Leonardo DiCaprio mispronounced the Stephen Frears-directed film "Philomena" as "Philomania," Twitter users jokingly wondered about a possible "WrestleMania" offshoot. A similar frenzy followed a TelePrompTer snafu for "Wolf of Wall Street" stars Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie.
The telecast may have also benefited from the prominent showing of movies that have proved to be box office winners, as well as awards favorites.
"Gravity," for which Alfonso Cuarón won the directing Globe, has grossed $256 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada. David O. Russell's 1970s-set con artist tale "American Hustle," which won the most awards Sunday night, has generated more than $101 million domestically. DiCaprio's "Wolf of Wall Street" has grossed almost $80 million.
However, the telecast was not a record-setter. The most-watched Golden Globes telecast since NBC started airing it was in 2004, when "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" captured the most awards and the show averaged 26.8 million viewers.
Sunday's telecast was also an improvement over last year's among viewers ages 18 to 49, the demographic for which advertisers pay a premium. Ratings for that group rose 2% to 6.5, the highest in seven years and matching its 10-year high.
It goes to show that there's nothing wrong with a live event that's a little unhinged, as long as it fuels interest with surprises, such as when Diane Keaton accepted Woody Allen's Cecil B. DeMille Award and ended her speech with a rendition of the song "Make New Friends (But Keep the Old)."
Or, as Fey put it when signing off: "This was the beautiful mess we hoped it would be."
That may be why the two comedians have been invited back to host next year's show too.
Times staff writer Dawn C. Chmielewski contributed to this report.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times