CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Neil Patrick Harris, dressed in a wig, lingerie and red heels, took the stage at Harvard University on Friday to accept the 2014 Man of the Year Award from America’s oldest undergraduate drama troupe.
The “How I Met Your Mother” star cast a few spells, saved someone’s life and sang a jingle from “Rent” before being awarded the Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ annual Pudding Pot.
“I felt remarkably good in heels,” Harris said after the ceremony, adding that he had spent seven hours stomping around in custom heels to practice.
Harris was showered with ridicule by the show’s roasters, who said he was best known for 200 episodes of “crappy” television.
The Emmy Award-winning actor has spent 25 years in entertainment playing roles in TV, in film and on stage, where he has sung, danced and even performed magic tricks. He also has hosted the Tony and Emmy awards.
One of the roasters said, “Those who can’t do host, and those who can’t host host the Spike TV Video Game Awards,” which Harris hosted in 2010.
Harris, who has appeared in the “Harold & Kumar” and “The Smurfs” movies and has starred in three Broadway plays, is most recently known for his role as suave ladies’ man Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother,” a hit CBS comedy in its ninth and final season. He said he broke Barney’s bro code on Friday night by kissing two guys in dresses on the lips.
In his earlier days, Harris played a teenage doctor on the TV comedy “Doogie Howser, M.D.” He had to tap into his medical expertise on stage Friday to save a choking Jason Segel, his “How I Met Your Mother” co-star, who won the Pudding Pot award two years ago.
Harris said chuckling that Segel gave him a joke to use for Friday’s show but forgot to mention that he used the same joke when he was in Cambridge to accept his award.
After Friday’s roast, Harris attended the theatre’s debut production of “Victorian Secrets,” a play about a secret society of Harvard students in the 18th century.
The 2014 Woman of the Year was “Red” and “The Queen” actress Helen Mirren, who visited Harvard last week to accept her award and showed off her twerking skills.
Jay Z led the Grammy nominations on Friday with nine, while newcomer rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and rapper Kendrick Lamar were among a group of young performers who took many of the major nominations.
Macklemore and Lewis’ gay marriage anthem “Same Love” was among song of the year nominees and the Seattle rap duo joined Lamar with seven nominations apiece, including best album and best new artist of the year. Pharrell Williams had four major nominations among his seven and Justin Timberlake also had seven.
Macklemore and Lewis dominated a nominations TV special broadcast live on CBS from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles that also included performances by nominees Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Lorde and Robin Thicke. They opened the show with a colorful, high-energy version of their hit “Thrift Shop,” featuring Wanz, and immediately picked up a song of the year nomination for “Same Love.”
Two nominations later, Ben Haggerty, the rapper known as Macklemore, was noting it was a “very surreal moment,” during an on-air interview with host LL Cool J. “It’s like we’re not supposed to be here, but we’re here with LL Cool J.”
Recording Academy favorites Timberlake and Jay Z teamed up for two nominations apiece, but they only had one major nomination between them this year and that came for Jay Z’s participation on Lamar’s album of the year nominee “good kid, m.A.A.d city” instead of his own “Magna Carta … Holy Grail.”
Perry said of “Roar” in an emotional moment before a pre-taped performance: “I didn’t think that it would take on such a life of its own, and so I hope that the song has inspired you guys and it will bring out that kind of self-strength that you need a little bit to go through your days when they get a little bit hard.”
Other performances came from Lorde, Keith Urban and Miguel, Swift (who sang “I Knew You Were Trouble” in a pre-taped performance from Australia) and Robin Thicke, who closed the show with “Blurred Lines” with the help of rapper T.I. and members of Earth, Wind and Fire.
Nominees for pop duo/group performance and country album were also announced during the live special, by presenters including Sheeran, Enrique Iglesias and Melissa Etheridge.Jay Z and Timberlake teamed for two nominations: best rap/sung collaboration for Jay Z’s “Holy Grail” and best video entry “Suit & Tie.” Jay Z is competing against himself in the rap/sung category with “Part II (On the Run),” featuring his wife, Beyonce, which is also nominated. And he’s up for best rap performance for “Tom Ford.” He also grabbed a best music video nomination for “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film” and again teamed with Timberlake in that category for their video for “Suit & Tie.”
Timberlake picked up a handful of nominations in pop categories, including pop vocal album of the year for “The 20/20 Experience.” Other nominees in that category include Lana Del Rey’s “Paradise,” Lorde’s “Pure Heroine,” Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” and Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”
“The Heist,” ”good kid” and “Magna Carta” are also on the best rap album list with Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same” and Kanye West’s “Yeezus,” which was mostly shut out of the nominations. West also got a nomination for best rap song for “New Slaves.”
There were six rock album of the year nominations, meaning there was a tie in the category. Nominees were Black Sabbath’s “13,” David Bowie’s “Next Day,” Kings of Leon’s “Mechanical Bull,” Led Zeppelin live album “Celebration Day,” Queens of the Stone Age’s “… Like Clockwork” and Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s “Psychdelic Pill.”
Swift’s “Red” is up for country album of the year with Jason Aldean’s “Night Train,” Tim McGraw’s “Two Lanes of Freedom,” Blake Shelton’s “Based on a True Story …,” and Musgraves’ “Same Trailer Different Park.” The country newcomer also faces herself in the country song of the year category where she helped pen her own “Merry Go ‘Round” and Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart.”
The major nominations were an acknowledgement of 2013’s top hit-makers. “Get Lucky,” ”Blurred Lines” and “Royals” took turns ruling the pop radio airwaves this year. Macklemore and Lewis had two hits — “Same Love” and “Thrift Shop” — that led to nominations.
And Lamar seemed like he was everywhere, managing to keep his profile high with a number of hits, guest appearances and moments of bravado that helped voters forget his album came out 14 months ago. Lamar called himself the greatest rapper in the game earlier this year, calling out Drake and several others in verse, and voters mostly backed him up.
West may have suffered the most from the large hauls of Lamar and Macklemore and Lewis. His “Yeezus” is already making many year-end lists, but had no hits and spawned controversy among some listeners. Others who might consider themselves snubbed are 2013’s most visible country stars Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, who were both shut out.
Friday’s broadcast also included a tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95.”Mr. Mandela taught us what a difference one person can make,” LL Cool J said. “May this brave man rest in peace.”
The 56th annual Grammy Awards on CBS will take place on Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
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