There are scads of awards shows each year, mostly featuring designer-clad celebrities handing honors of various shapes and sizes to other designer-clad celebrities in front of an audience stuffed with designer-clad celebrities.
Airing Saturday, Dec. 8, on NBC, the second annual American Giving Awards aims to be a little bit different. There will be designer-clad celebrities, but instead of statues, they'll be distributing $2 million in Chase grants to five featured charitable organizations, chosen from a group of 25 previous Chase Community Giving grant recipients.
Host for the evening is Joel McHale, star of the NBC comedy "Community," who explains to Zap2it how he got the job, saying, "Well, I did a relay race -- it was kind of a scavenger hunt -- and I won, and the prize is hosting the show."
Fans who watch McHale on his other regular gig as host of E! Entertainment Television's "The Soup," a satirical look at pop culture and current events, know that it's not always wise to take everything McHale says at face value.
After giving a silly answer, McHale says, "They did an offer, and it seems like a really nice thing, and I said, 'All right,' and that was that. It's not really that interesting."
The grants awarded on television represent a slice of the total Chase Community Giving program, in which the consumer and commercial banking business part of JPMorgan Chase & Co. relies on votes from Facebook users and online customers to determine which worthy causes receive the assistance.
Voting for the larger 2012 program started in September, with 196 charities -- nominated by Chase customers and employees in June -- sharing a total of $5 million in grants.
For the televised awards, votes for 25 participating charities were tallied from Nov. 27 until Dec. 4. The top vote getter receives a $1 million grant; the runner-up gets $500,000; third gets $250,000, and the remaining two receive $125,000.The 25 charities represent one of five categories representing "building blocks" of communities: "Educators & Mentors," "Heroes & Leaders," "Champions of Health & Wellness," "Community Builder" and "Youth Developers."
As is customary with awards shows, McHale will begin the evening with a monologue.
As to what the theme of his presentation will be, he says, "It'll probably be Caribbean. I always liked 'Moulin Rouge,' but I feel like that's been done. I'll probably dress in some sort of frilly thing.
"What'll be the theme? I don't know. It'll probably be an awards show theme. I'll probably be wearing something like a suit. I don't know -- now you've got me thinking. I guess you can just print, 'Caribbean. Incredible music, a lot of rum drinks.' You can tell, it's hard for me to give serious answers."
But McHale does take the awards seriously, even if it may be hard to tell on-screen.
"Obviously, [these awards] are very meaningful," he says, "and you have to bring levity to the evening. That doesn't make you make fun of them; you have to make them laugh. I mean, when was the last awards show that you paid attention to where everyone was earnest all the time?"
While McHale will be telling jokes, his commitment to charity is heartfelt.
"I am getting a lot of charity events," he says, "and finding it very rewarding. My services to those things are really very fulfilling and rewarding. I just hosted the Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Network evening. Talk about a heavy subject.
"It's one of the worst cancers. I had a cousin who died of it, and a friend who died of it. That was near and dear to my heart. But you have to, even in those situations, bring humor to it, because it can become a very heavy night.
"I go to charity events all the time. I support a bunch of them."
As for whether he'd ever create a foundation bearing his name, McHale says, "I want a charity that donates to me getting a Porsche 911 Turbo S. So I'll probably put that foundation together pretty soon."
McHale is calling in from Paramount Studios, where he is shooting a new season of "Community," not set to air on NBC until early February. Even though the show's premiere was delayed from October, that doesn't mean production stops.
The awards tape on a Friday night to air on Saturday, and since "Community" has been known to shoot into the wee hours of Saturday morning, McHale says his cast members will "definitely" not be attending. It's enough of a challenge to get McHale cut loose on a weeknight.
"They can usually accommodate it," he says, "but you've got to tell them months in advance."
It might wind up being a very long night for McHale.
"I won't be surprised," he says, "if I have to come back to 'Community.' Crazy, crazy times."
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