Awards Season

The Agonizing SAG Red Carpet: Come Back, Ryan Seacrest! Never Leave Again!

TV personality Giuliana Rancic arrives at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. i i

TV personality Giuliana Rancic arrives at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
TV personality Giuliana Rancic arrives at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

TV personality Giuliana Rancic arrives at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Awards season brings with it many things: the beautiful speech, the awkward speech, the mawkish montage, and the unforgivable snub. But it also brings one of the most profoundly silly rituals in celebrity culture: the red-carpet interview in which actors step up to be grilled, most commonly on E!, before they head into the venue.

For years, these chats were done by Joan Rivers, who specialized in later saying mean things about what everyone was wearing. This last part, she still does on a separate show. But Rivers is out of the red-carpet game, and much of E!'s coverage is now anchored by Ryan Seacrest, the man whose official job in Hollywood is Host Of Most Things, and whose unofficial job is Doing Things That Seem Like Stupid Jobs Until You See Other People Trying To Do Them And Realize Hey, I'll Be Darned, That Ryan Seacrest Knows Something. Seacrest does the Golden Globes, he does the Oscars, he does the Emmys ... essentially, he handles your high-end red-carpet events, such as they are. (Hey, everything has a high end. Even a very short fencepost.)

He did not, however, do the Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday night, and that meant the coverage was primarily in the hands of his frequent co-host, E!'s Giuliana Rancic, who is an E! anchor and has her own reality show, making her both a deliverer and a maker of celebrity news. Assisted by Kelly Osbourne (of the Ozzy Osbournes) and Ross Mathews, another person who is famous for really no reason at all except that he used to be a character named "Ross The Intern" on Jay Leno's show, Rancic delivered some of the most awkward, cringe-worthy celebrity interviewing that's been offered in some time.

(If, by the way, you actually want to know who won, the big winners included the casts of Boardwalk Empire, Modern Family, and The Help, as well as Jean Dujardin of The Artist, Viola Davis of The Help, Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock, Jessica Lange of American Horror Story, Steve Buscemi of Boardwalk Empire, and Betty White of Hot In Cleveland.)

Right from the get-go, Rancic's uncomfortable-o-meter was cranked up to heaven. When Katrina Bowden of NBC's 30 Rock announced that she had just gotten engaged the previous night, Rancic wanted the details. Not just "How did it happen?", but "Where were you guys?", which led to the uncomfortable answer from Bowden's fiance, "We were just in a beautiful suite at the Four Seasons." DO YOU GET IT, GIULIANA? THEY WERE IN A HOTEL ROOM. Fortunately, she didn't ask what they were wearing, but I'll bet she thought about it. She did manage to ask of the ring, "So he picked it out all by himself?" Who knew a man could competently choose an engagement ring to offer to a woman as a gift? This is unheard of in the world in which you don't simply acquire things without consultation!

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For sheer gender-role obnoxiousness, though, nothing could match Rancic's question to Steve Carell's wife, actress Nancy Walls. After learning what Walls was wearing, Rancic asked her, "Did Mr. Carell buy that for you?" Since this can hardly mean she envisioned Steve Carell picking out the dress Pretty Woman-style, it suggests that if a married woman owns something expensive, it's because her husband decided to front her the money. Just a note: Steve Carell's wife is blonde, but she is not Blondie and he is not Dagwood and it's not the 1950s and seriously, Giuliana Rancic, don't do that.

Rancic also displayed a strange affinity for prying personal questions that jarred even the most unflappable celebrities. Viola Davis is a pretty cool character, but when Rancic followed up a question about Davis' daughter, whom she adopted in October, with a question about whether Davis and her husband want to have more kids, the look on Davis' face ... well. It's here at the 1:15 mark. It must be seen to be fully appreciated.

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Did you miss it? Okay. Here's a screenshot.

Viola Davis and her husband respond to a question about their childbearing future. i i

Viola Davis and her husband respond to a question about their childbearing future. hide caption

itoggle caption
Viola Davis and her husband respond to a question about their childbearing future.

Viola Davis and her husband respond to a question about their childbearing future.

It went on and on. Rancic announced to Kyra Sedgwick that most celebrity couples seem to split up and asked for the secret to her long and successful relationship with Kevin Bacon, despite acknowledging that she has asked Sedgwick this question before and has been told that there isn't a secret. She asked Michelle Williams, who tends to be particularly private about her daughter (whose father was Heath Ledger) where her daughter is when she comes to events like this. She asked Jonah Hill to elaborate on his exasperation with the contemptuous way the E! announcers reacted to his Oscar nomination for Moneyball, which ... he did. She got this face from Modern Family's Sofia Vergara after mentioning that Vergara announced at the Golden Globes that she wasn't wearing underwear.

Sofia Vergara reacts to being told that she had said at the Golden Globes that she was wearing "$5 million worth of jewelry and no panties." She denied it, saying she'd only said she was wearing small panties. i i

Sofia Vergara reacts to being told that she had said at the Golden Globes that she was wearing "$5 million worth of jewelry and no panties." She denied it, saying she'd only said she was wearing small panties. hide caption

itoggle caption
Sofia Vergara reacts to being told that she had said at the Golden Globes that she was wearing "$5 million worth of jewelry and no panties." She denied it, saying she'd only said she was wearing small panties.

Sofia Vergara reacts to being told that she had said at the Golden Globes that she was wearing "$5 million worth of jewelry and no panties." She denied it, saying she'd only said she was wearing small panties.

In fairness to Rancic, ABC agrees that Vergara, though she now insists she in fact wore very "tiny panties," indeed disavowed any underwear backstage at the Globes. But that is still a great, great face that contributed to the sense that everything was entirely off the rails.

Then there was Kristen Wiig. Wiig has already said publicly that she's not interested in pursuing Bridesmaids 2, and that she and her writing partner Annie Mumolo are working on another project. Rancic nonetheless asked her about Bridesmaids 2. Wiig said, once again, that she was flattered that people were interested, but she was moving on. "But have you closed the door on Bridesmaids 2?" Rancic persisted. Wiig, who probably can't keep the studio from going on without her and therefore can't technically say there won't be another movie: "I don't really know what's going to happen, but as far as my involvement right now, I'm doing something else." Rancic: "So, no plans on it quite yet."

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Red-carpet interviews are supposed to be frivolous fun. They're supposed to be a moment where you get to look at a dress or a tux and argue with people over whether you like it or not (Davis' dress was great; Wiig really needed to lose the choker), and where you can see happy people with their happy spouses and occasionally an adorable mom. It's not supposed to feel like a Christopher Guest movie, but this really was Rancic in the role of Catherine O'Hara.

Ryan Seacrest is an easy man to doubt, just generally, but I doubt he would ever have asked anyone whether they want more kids, and I think he would have taken no for an answer from Kristen Wiig, and I am almost entirely certain that he would not have suggested to Steve Carell's wife that she asks her husband for spending money.

Hey, Ryan? Make sure you come back for the Oscars. We can't take this again.

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