Article Source: New York Times
LOS ANGELES — A little over five years ago Andy Samberg gave up his unemployment checks to take a job writing a few gags for a television special, the MTV Movie Awards. He took a pay cut.
Still, it turned out to be a good career move. The assignment led to an audition at “Saturday Night Live,” a job on that show and growing fame for a series of short digital comedy films, some of which have been downloaded tens of millions of times. And now, in a scene right out of one of the popcorn movies that the awards celebrate, Mr. Samberg is back as the host of the ceremony. (It will be broadcast live on Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern time.)
“It’s the American dream,” said the reality-television maestro Mark Burnett, who is producing the awards show for MTV. “Junior writer becomes host of the show he used to write for.”
Beyond the usual monologue, Mr. Samberg said, he will season his host duties with as many as five new short films. “I’m a pretape Charlie,” he said. He has recruited a mix of talent to accompany him in the films, from Will Ferrell to the singer Taylor Swift to J. J. Abrams, who usually works on the other side of filmmaking (as a creator of ABC’s “Lost” and director of the new “Star Trek” movie.)
Mr. Samberg said, with a sprinkling of nervous laughter, “This is a big show; it’s a spectacle.” He might have been looking at the lineup of guests and presenters, which includes Ben Stiller, Denzel Washington, Cameron Diaz and other Hollywood film names interested in getting in front of the mostly young, mostly movie-oriented and mostly large audience that MTV attracts for the event (as many as 3.6 million viewers for the live show and 20 million for all its showings on the channel).
Or the music lineup, headlined this year by Eminem and Kings of Leon. The show also has enough cachet with the Hollywood studios that three of them have contributed clips from coming movie sequels to “Twilight,” “Transformers” and the “Harry Potter” series, all of which will be seen for the first time. Last year’s host was Mike Myers, who has had a few hit movies of his own. Mr. Samberg has no blockbusters to his credit.
But Mr. Samberg, who is 30, has something else that MTV is most interested in: a sizable following among young viewers of much smaller screens, namely TV sets and computer monitors.
“I guess I reached some point where I got on the radar,” he said. “My name seems to come up on things on the Internet.”
It comes up with some frequency. Several of Mr. Samberg’s more than 60 digital shorts for “SNL,” produced with his writing partners, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer (the three form the comedy group the Lonely Island, which earlier this year released its first album, “Incredibad”), have become phenomena online. One, “I’m on a Boat,” featuring Mr. Samberg and the rap artist T-Pain, has been viewed more than 25 million times on YouTube — and that isn’t even Mr. Samberg’s biggest hit.
Two of his other short films, with titles that can’t be printed here with impunity, one about trouser accidents (with Molly Sims), the other about unusual gift ideas (with Justin Timberlake), have racked up more than 48 million and 35 million views.
All of this has made Mr. Samberg a desirable choice for an awards show intended to find new categories for nominations in movies that people actually wanted to see — rather than the ones usually honored for more ethereal qualities. The most nominated entries this year are “Twilight,” “Slumdog Millionaire” (an award winner and crowd pleaser) and “The Dark Knight.”
The winners, based on fan votes online, come in some rather contrived-sounding categories, like best fight, best kiss and best moment of cognitive dissonance. (That one also has a different formal title.)
“That award I still don’t totally understand,” Mr. Samberg said. Van Toffler, the president of MTV, said Mr. Samberg had gotten the nod as host because he is “the comedian for the digital age.”
Even with all his Internet exposure, Mr. Samberg said he recognized that this assignment was a significant career opportunity. “Certainly after doing this, it will introduce me to a lot more people that didn’t otherwise know me — or maybe thought my name was Adam and not Andy,” Mr. Samberg said.