Jerrod Carmichael had a pitch for Tom Cruise and Church of Scientology in one of his Golden Globes jokes.
The comedian and host of Tuesday’s ceremony referenced Cruise having returned his Globe statues in 2021 in the midst of controversy surrounding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization behind the Globes.
“Backstage, I found these three Golden Globe awards that Tom Cruise returned,” Carmichael quipped as he came on stage holding three awards.
Carmichael noted he was “just the host,” then added, “but I have a pitch.”
“I think maybe we take these three things and exchange them for the safe return of Shelly Miscavige,” he said.
There were some awkward groans and a few gasps in the room even as some viewers may not have understood the joke.
Cruise is a longtime member of the Church of Scientology. Shelly Miscavige is the wife of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige.
In 2013, after actress and former Scientology member Leah Remini raised concern publicly that Shelly Miscavige had not been seen out in public for some time, the Los Angeles Police Department said detectives had made contact with Shelly Miscavige and found her to be alive and safe.
The church issued a statement at the time accusing Remini of “creating this unnecessary burden for law enforcement,” adding it “was even more irresponsible given the entire episode was nothing more than a publicity stunt for Ms. Remini.”
Cruise returned the best actor Globes he won for his performances in “Jerry Maguire” in 1997 and “Born on the Fourth of July” in 1990, and the best supporting actor award for “Magnolia” in 2000.
He did so amid criticism of the HFPA for its lack of diversity, specifically its lack of Black members, as well as ethical questions related to financial benefits to some of its 87 members brought to light in an investigation by the Los Angeles Times.
HFPA has said it has made sweeping changes including increasing its diversity by inviting in new members of color.
CNN has reached out to representatives for Cruise and the Church of Scientology for comment.