Hollywood is a pompous, self-absorbed industry that can dish it out but can't take it. Sure, Robert Downey Jr. can go blackface in Tropic Thunder and Ben Stiller can play a mustachioed Mexican bandito-newscaster in Anchorman, but lord help you if you start to say the things everyone in Hollywood thinks about some of its own.

And so Ricky Gervais on Tuesday found himself in the middle of a (faux?) tempest, with rumors swirling (denied) that he would not be asked to return as host of the Golden Globes next year.

What set the establishment off following Sunday night's MC duties at the fake Oscars Globes?

He took aim at Charlie Sheen (who hasn't?):

“It's going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking. Or as Charlie Sheen calls it: breakfast.”

He took aim at Scientologists (Tom Cruise, John Travolta?):

“Also not nominated, I Love You Phillip Morris. Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay… so the complete opposite of some famous Scientologists, then. My lawyers helped with that joke.”

(Really? Joking about famous Scientologists is going too far now?).

And he even bit the hand that was feeding him, the head of the strange group of non-journalists that fake this thing every year Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Philip Burk:

“Next up, Eva Longoria has the daunting task of introducing the President of the Hollywood Foreign Press. That's nothing, I just had to help him off the toilet and pop his teeth in.”

Added: Burk responded to the Hollywood Reporter that Gervais “definitely crossed the line. And some of the things were totally unacceptable.”

We find it a little bit ironic that the Foreign Press is holding its nose over harmless jokes at the same time it's facing a lawsuit alleging that its members got cash and gifts in exchange for nominations.

The allegations, which the association denies, essentially say the Globes — highly prized in Hollywood as preludes to the Oscars — are a scam without critical basis.

Gervais, in shorts.

Gervais, in shorts.

Rumors swirled that Gervais was pulled from the telecast as the show went on without him for a spell and he returned reading from cue cards.

Gervais said he was on-script the whole time.

Perhaps as a show of support, Judd Apatow challenged critics to do better and even said via Twitter they could send in jokes for him to use as host of this weekend's Producers Guild of America Awards.

Just keep Scientology, Charlie Sheen and awards organizers out of it.

What's hard to swallow here is the notion — espoused by the HFPA in its post-show criticism of Gervais — that Globes producers didn't sign off on every word he said beforehand. Really?

Or is this just another form of manufactured reality?

Hollywood. (Shakes head).

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