Curtis tasks HFPA audience to ‘get some skin in the game’

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Politics were top of mind for Jamie Lee Curtis, who hosted the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual grants presentation Thursday evening at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Curtis spoke in broad terms about the HFPA’s generosity in awarding nearly $2.4 million in grants to over 55 charities, educational institutions, and film preservation efforts, before going off script with some words about the election.

“Here’s what I want to say about the election and then I will shut the (expletive) up: Get some skin in the game,” Curtis said.

She spoke about Sebastian Junger’s recently released book “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging,” and a conversation between Junger and his father who told him that he owed his country something.

“You owe your country something,” she said. “Whoever you’re for, whatever party you’re with, get some skin in the game. Do something. Get out there, knock on doors.”

It was an unexpected moment of passion in an otherwise pleasant and tightly scripted evening, in which celebrities from Justin Timberlake to Warren Beatty came out to accept grants on behalf of various organizations.

Timberlake laughed that he felt “presidential” taking the podium in the ballroom and speaking off of a teleprompter.

Beatty looked out at the room with a nostalgic sigh.

“I always love coming back to this hotel,” Beatty said. “I actually lived here for 12 years.”

Things also hit close to home, albeit in a different way, for “Jane the Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez, who accepted a grant on behalf of a high school in her hometown of Chicago.

“Education was a way out, a ticket to success … the idea of opportunity was limited beyond belief,” Rodriguez said. “To be able to give back to a high school in Chicago is everything I ever wanted to do.”

“The Birth of a Nation” star and director Nate Parker, too, was able to accept a grant on behalf of the organization that gave him a leg up in his directorial debut — the Sundance Film Institute.

Other presenters included Renee Zellweger, Emma Stone, Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia.

In the 90 minute ceremony, Curtis later spoke about how 2016 is shaping up to be the year of the woman, saying that she believes that in November that the political glass ceiling will be shattered.

“So who better to hand out grants to important women’s charities than two white men,” Curtis said, before bringing out Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn.

The two men, who were lighthearted in spite of a malfunctioning teleprompter, accepted a grant on behalf of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women.

“I’ll sing, you dance, and we’ll see how far we can get,” Gibson said while waiting for the pre-written words to catch up with them.

The HFPA has long shared a portion of its awards-show earnings with schools, arts organizations and film restoration projects, and stars often unconnected with those groups accept the grants on their behalf. The HFPA has donated more than $25 million to date, and aided with the restoration of more than 90 films.

Hugh Grant was only one of the many who weren’t aware of the HFPA’s charitable contributions.

“I had no idea the Hollywood Foreign Press gave out all this money. I didn’t even know you had all this money,” Grant laughed. “It’s frightfully sinister.”

Recipients included CalArts, UCLA, the American Film Institute, Loyola Marymount, the Echo Park Film Center, Ghetto Film School and the Film Foundation.

“We are lucky that we can do this,” said HFPA President Lorenzo Soria. “People know us as the Golden Globes people and we do that once a year, but for the rest of the year we do other things. We are lucky to have the income from the broadcast rights and tonight is when we give it back.”

The 74th annual Golden Globe Awards will be broadcast live on Jan. 8 by NBC with Jimmy Fallon hosting.

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