Ricky Gervais

Armageddon seemed just a wee bit closer the day the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced its nominations for the Golden Globe Awards. That's because one of the year's biggest Oscar-buzz films, True Grit, was snubbed in every category, while such critically blasted stinkers as Burlesque and The Tourist got love galore.

Then again, this scandal-plagued organization — consisting of about 90 reporters representing some 55 nations — has never been a reliable barometer for the Academy Awards. Last year, the HFPA honored Avatar while the Oscar went to The Hurt Locker. But Globe voters do have a fabulous track record when it comes to TV. In fact, they've led the way — and beat the Emmys to the punch — in awarding such landmark series as The Sopranos, 24 and Mad Men.

But let's get down to what really matters: The Globes are always the best party in town, boasting wall-to-wall stars, free-flowing booze and impromptu insanity. (Who can forget Jack Nicholson mooning the audience or the time Christine Lahti won when she was in the loo?) Coolest of all, nobody's censoring Ricky Gervais, who is back as host for the second year in a row.

"They give me complete freedom — in fact, no one even asks to see my script," reveals the Brit comic, who insists he's less interested in shocking the showbiz crowd (and us peeps at home) than maintaining his status as a Hollywood intruder. "The truth is, I look around at the Globes and half the people there are my friends," says Gervais. "But I really don't want to come off as part of the gang. I don't want to be photographed having a laugh with George Clooney and Brad Pitt. That ruins me as the 'outsider.' As host, I want to be the bloke everyone looks at and says, 'How the hell did he get in?'"

The Golden Globe Awards air Sunday at 8/7c on NBC.

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