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2023’s Golden Globe winners thank their agents, their families and Steven Spielberg

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In the last leg of the Golden Globes, which returned to the airwaves Tuesday after dust-ups surrounding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s ethics and diversity scandals, host Jerrod Carmichael made a surprising admission.

Speaking to Steven Spielberg, he said, “Congrats on The Fabelmans. I actually saw it with Kanye and it changed everything for him — that’s how good you are. You changed Kanye West’s mind!”

Spielberg was a good sport about the joke, clasping his hands as if prayer could reach the wayward rapper. But if you were watching the Globes, which saw Spielberg’s film win best drama film and best director, you might walk away with a Kanye-esque conclusion. Not that Jews control Hollywood, but that a Jew named Spielberg has, for decades, shaped the culture by giving newcomers chances.

The first award of the night went to Ke Huy Quan, who won for supporting actor in Everything Everywhere All at Once. “I was raised to never forget where I came from and to always remember who gave me my first opportunity,” Quan began. “I am so happy to see Steven Spielberg here tonight.”

Spielberg gave Quan his first big break, casting him as Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Quan would also appear as Data in the Spielberg-produced The Goonies, a film that gave a then-unknown screenwriter named Chris Columbus his first major credit.

When Ryan Murphy accepted his Carol Burnett TV Achievement Award, spending the bulk of his time praising his collaborators, he too acknowledged Spielberg, who started the American Horror Story creator’s career proper by purchasing his script Why Can’t I Be Audrey Hepburn.

Scads more winners mentioned Spielberg as an influence or, like Michelle Yeoh, who also won for Everything Everywhere All at Once, a person with whom they had the pleasure of working.

As Kevin Redding noted, one of Spielberg’s greatest legacies, instilled in him from his own early supporters, is championing young talent that goes on to become major players in the industry. But the Spielberg love fest was in part a symptom of the usual bonhomie and mutual admiration we’ve come to expect from the Globes, likely made more acute by a year of absence. Even Volodymyr Zelenskyy showed up with a pre-taped message thanking the free world for their support. 

Another Jewish winner, Justin Hurwitz, who took home the award for his score for Babylon, thanked his parents and his public school education. (Abbott Elementary, about a Philadelphia public school, won for best comedy TV show, best actress for Quinta Brunson and best supporting actor for Tyler James Williams.) Julia Garner, who has a trove of Emmys for playing Ruth Langmore on Ozark, added a Golden Globe to her trophy case and kept her speech brief.

One Jewish star who didn’t was Natasha Lyonne, who, in a charming bit, played Polonius, speaking of the need for witful brevity in the acceptance speeches, while herself running long. 

The only true villain here is time herself — AKA death’s chariot,” Lyonne quipped in her inimitable patter. 

While Carmichael took some risks, declaring that he was hired because he was Black and the awards are dogged by a racism scandal, and even making a joke about Scientology and its leader David Miscavige’s missing wife, Shelly, the celebrities seemed content to get drunk and enjoy each other’s A-list company. 

When Spielberg took the podium a second time to accept the award for best picture, drama, it was his time to thank a mentor of his own. He was reminded by presenter Quentin Tarantino, who whispered in his ear that “John Cassavetes would be so proud.” 

Spielberg explained that he was a production assistant for Cassavetes when he was starting out. 

“I got him coffee. I got them anything they wanted,” Spielberg said. “And that’s why I treat my PAs so kindly, because I know what it feels like.”

If the trend continues, one day a coffee runner for The Fabelmans will be thanking Spielberg when he takes home the top prize. Hopefully that year’s host won’t also have cause to make a Ye joke.

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