SUNDAY PM: Best line tonight at the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards was from Tina Fey who said “We want to thank our friends at NBC for keeping us on the air … even though we are so much more expensive than a talk show.” Neat bitchslap, Tina. Considering this is the 3rd win for 30 Rock in the “Comedy Series” category and the show won 5 Emmys overall Sunday night, she can probably ask Jeff Zucker to bear her next child (without the epidural). Speaking of pain and the broadcast itself, Neil Patrick Harris (aka Mr. “Put Down The Remote”) was less annoying than most hosts. But let me just say that The Family Guy clip of Stewie beating that poor dog senseless and drowning him in the toilet bowl (“Where’s my Emmy? Where’s my Emmy?) perfectly replicates what I’d like to do mentally to Don Mischer and all the other torturers who put on this crapfest tonight. A total of 10 TV and cable networks collected the 28 TV awards handed out Sunday night. In all, the broadcast networks claimed 13 Emmys and the cable networks or pay channels HBO, Showtime, FX, Comedy Central, AMC, A&E collected 11, and PBS received 3. Between the Creative Arts and Primetime Emmys ceremonies, the Emmy scorecard was HBO 21, NBC 16, ABC 11, Fox 10, CBS 9, PBS 9, and so on. But they carry an asterisk because of this year’s expansion of major-category nominees to field 6 and as many as 7 contenders apiece for comedy and drama. HBO cleaned up biggest for the 9th year in a row. But NBC immediately put out this message to journalists: We may be the last place broadcast network, but we’re the most awarded. Said tonight’s press release: “It was another huge night for NBC Universal at the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards as the NBC network again won 16 combined Emmys, including five for “30 Rock,” which was the most-honored series on any broadcast or cable network at this year’s awards. “30 Rock” also claimed its third back-to-back win as Outstanding Comedy Series giving NBC a win in that category for the past four years. NBC also tied HBO for the most wins of the evening with five.” Meanwhile, the CBS bigwigs must have been dying when the Dallas/Giants game on NBC caught fire from the starting kick-off. The long-running rivalry went down to the wire and, at one point, the two teams were separated by only one point in the 4th quarter until a field goal with the clock showing 0:00 determined the winner. Up against that, Emmy ratings could sink even lower than the 2008 ceremony, which was the least watched ever with an audience of only 12.3 million.
5 PM: I won’t be live-blogging the Emmys because I’m still ill, and the jackasses at the Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences and CBS don’t carry the awards show live in all U.S. time zones (and I, like an idiot, don’t have satellite TV). Nevertheless, I’ll be commenting from the comfort of my sick bed as the winners and losers are announced on the Internet. Don’t read on if you think ATAS always gets it right. My own feeling is that Emmys too often go not just to the people and productions who don’t deserve them, but only to HBO because Richard Plepler holds for ransom every voter’s firstborn or Chihuahua. So here’s our chance to piss and moan and even praise (the latter only if necessary):
Mad Men (AMC)
Everyone knows I’m deeply biased when it comes to Mad Men. Because even with its non-sequitur storylines and permanent loose ends, creator Matthew Weiner makes up for those annoyances with surprise twists and turns. But Mad Men‘s back-to-back Emmys in this prestigious of all categories showcase the stupidity of the Hollywood execs who produce and program television. Here they have gold in their hands and yet treat it like dirt. Remember how Lionsgate tried to replace Matthew after he and his CAA agents asked for a raise? Or when AMC tried to shorten the show in order to squeeze in a few more commercials? That Weiner had the balls to fight back and stick it out and make TV his way is what Emmy voters rewarded twice. Which is why Matthew schooled the awards audience Sunday night: “I may be the only person in the room with complete creative freedom. That’s why the show is so good.” It’s a lesson Hollywood high-ups in television should learn.
30 Rock (NBC)
This is such a safe “critic-approved” selection that I sometimes wonder if the Emmy voters think there’s a hidden camera trained on their ballots. I’m sorry, but 30 Rock isn’t the laugh riot everybody thinks it is (or at least the 25 viewers who actually watch it weekly judging by the still-low ratings). But since these are TV awards, voted on by TV people, in a TV-dominated town, then a sitcom sending up TV is to them a hoot and a half. Get over it already. After all, the sitcom is a dying genre. You exhausted comedic premises like friends and families and now network TV. Go forth and find yucks in more original arenas. Like showbiz bloggers who get flamed for saying they don’t like 30 Rock. I would have given the Emmy to The Family Guy. For no other reason than it would have pissed off viewers a lot more than even that inexplicable clip of Brian The Pup as a bloody pulp. Poor Choice.
ACTOR, DRAMA SERIES
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad (AMC)
He was the critics’ favorite. I would have given it this year to Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall. But Showtime has the most dimwitted and dysfunctional marketing/PR known to mankind and execs don’t know how to promote their shows at awards time. I bet they’ve never even taken a hostage. Neutral.
ACTRESS, DRAMA SERIES
Glenn Close, Damages (FX)
Great actress, great choice, great show. So much unlike Brothers & Sisters‘ past winner Sally Field who sucks out the air of every scene she’s in. FX was lucky and clever to cast Glenn. Great Choice.
ACTRESS, COMEDY SERIES
Toni Collette, United States of Tara (Showtime)
STOP THE PRESSES! (Or should I say, KILL THE MOUSE!) I can’t believe that Showtime won an Emmy. And without holding hostage the voters’ firstborn or Chihuahua. Toni Collette was the only reason to watch this series (certainly not Diablo Cody’s writing). Then again, Colette is usually the only reason to watch the motion pictures she’s in, too. My problem with this series was that it was so damn obvious and in-your-face. There was no subtlety possible because of the corny premise, and yet Colette fought against that as she always does. She also was aided by a terrific cast. The show wouldn’t have worked, in fact it would have been god-awful, had Toni not elevated the material. Good Choice. Especially because showbiz can’t give every award to Tina Fey, right?
ACTOR, COMEDY SERIES
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock (NBC)
ATAS voters, you’re only encouraging him. Baldwin isn’t that good in it. Or maybe it’s just an age/failure thing. Potential movie leading man who never achieved superstar status, who used to be hot and now isn’t, is enough of a sad story that his peers want to reward him. (As Alec said to presenter Rob Lowe, “I’d trade this to look like him, I really would, actually.”) On the other hand, The Big Bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons should have won. But he’s a newcomer to the TV scene. And his career is just beginning, not on its last legs. Is that the reason, voters? IS IT? Poor Choice.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA SERIES
Michael Emerson, Lost (ABC)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA SERIES
Cherry Jones, 24 (Fox)
SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY SERIES
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men (CBS)
This must have been a sop to Les Moonves for hosting the Emmys and changing the date again, and again, and again as he and ATAS played football with the awards show. Jon Cryer is a mediocre actor on a misogynist sitcom that America watches, and Nielsen meters in the Top 10, for reasons that completely escape me. (Sorry Chuck Lorre, but you’re crying all the way to the bank so I can’t feel sorry for you.) That Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris didn’t win for How I Met Your Mother when he week in and week out carries that show on his Hugo Boss’ed back is beyond me. Next To Neil, Jon is disabled. Poor Choice.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY SERIES
Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies (ABC)
I watched maybe a nanosecond of Pushing Daisies so I’m in no position to judge. Although Kristin was a fresh face on the old West Wing and is still a delight on Broadway. I would have awarded the Emmy to Vanessa Williams on Ugly Betty because I love how much she obviously enjoys playing mean. And nothing — no humiliating pratfall, no inane situation, no wimpy dialogue — ever seems to be beneath her. Neutral.
WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Matt Hubbard, “Reunion”, 30 Rock (NBC)
Of the five nominations, 4 were writers from 30 Rock. How’s that fair? Especially when writers on other networks who aren’t writing television about television don’t have as much home-grown material. Both Ben Silverman and Jeff Zucker are probably getting royalties from last season’s shows. Fixed.
WRITING FOR A DRAMA
Kater Gordon, Matthew Weiner, “Meditations In An Emergency”, Mad Men (AMC)
Women watch more scripted television than men, yet the vast majority of writing staffs on those shows are dominated by white males. Not this one, which has a predominantly female writing staff who overperfomed in this category. Good Choice.
WRITING FOR A VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SERIES
Steve Bodow, Jon Stewart, David Javerbaum, Josh Lieb, Rory Albanese, Kevin Bleyer, Jason Ross, Tim Carvell, John Oliver, Sam Means, Rob Kutner, J.R. Havlan, Rich Blomquist, Wyatt Cenac, Elliott Kalan, Rachel Axler, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
If you’re a liberal, this is deserved. If you’re a conservative, it’s a plot by those goddamn Hollywood socialists who worship The Messiah (aka President Obama) and hate god-fearing real Americans. Count me in the former category. Good Choice.
WRITING FOR A MINISERIES, MOVIE OR A DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Andrew Davies, Little Dorrit (PBS)
DIRECTING FOR A MINISERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Dearbhla Walsh, “Part 1”, Little Dorrit – “Part 1” (PBS)
DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SERIES
Bruce Gowers, “The Final Three”, American Idol (Fox)
ORIGINAL MUSIC AND LYRICS
“Hugh Jackman Opening Number”, 81st Annual Academy Awards (ABC)
The ATAS voters must be kidding. Or else deaf, dumb, blind, and Broadway bound. Because here’s what I wrote during that debacle: “OHMYGAWD, it’s not the Oscars: IT’S THE TONY’S! Worst Academy Awards opening ever. None of these lyrics are funny. Alan Carr’s showstopper of Snow White and Rob Lowe (remember how our jaws went slack?) is starting to look like a masterpiece in comparison. I really feel sorry for Jackman having to perform this crapfest number. Maybe he’ll just keep the Wolverine suit on for the rest of the year so no one will recognize him.” Poor Choice.
VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SERIES
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
Rod Holcomb, “And In The End”, ER (NBC)
This direction of the ER final episode brought together many complex storylines: of love and lost, medical drama, and everything else that mattered to the long-running series. Most of all, it reminded people like me who’d stopped following the show years ago why we’d watched in the first place. Good Choice.
DIRECTING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Jeff Blitz, The Office (NBC)
Well at least it’s not for 30 Rock. Then again, TV direction for The Office kinda consists only of watching the UK version and copying it. (Here’s hoping Jeff Blitz doesn’t know where I live…) Neutral.
Jeff Probst, Survivor (CBS)
Given that there were no less than 4 hosts who shouldn’t be on television, much less Reality TV (and, yes, one of them is the Viscount of Vapidity, Ryan Seacrest), this shouldn’t have been too hard a category to judge. That said, how could the ATAS voters not recognize true genius in the bizarre way that Top Chef‘s Tom Colicchio holds his knife and fork and tastes the food in front of him? On the other hand, Jeff Probst has the good sense to stay upwind of all those dirty and stinky Survivor contestants, but also the bad manners to tell them exactly why he’s doing it. Neutral.
REALITY COMPETITION PROGRAM
The Amazing Race (CBS)
For a 7th straight year, this travelog tournament has won this category. And I simply don’t get it. First, every other scene depicts the last-place couple in some new kind of airport hell. I can’t stomach my own arguments with airline personnel much less watch other people have them. How is this entertainment? And the cameras work hard to catch every last ounce of Ugly American behavior around the world. Yet no one to date has died doing a challenge or been thrown into a Midnight Express-like foreign jail to rot. Again, how is this entertainment? There’s much more maiming and manacling on Top Chef worth watching. Poor Choice.
MADE FOR TELEVISION MOVIE
Grey Gardens (HBO)
ACTOR, MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Brendan Gleeson, Into the Storm (HBO)
The Gathering Storm and Into The Storm were two of HBO’s least hyped movies, and probably that’s why they’re among my favorites from the PR-centric pay channel. In the first, Albert Finney played Winston Churchill as an old man. Then Brendan Gleeson played Churchill younger even though it was a later time period. But he made me forget all about Finney. Which is saying a lot. Good Choice.
ACTRESS, MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens (HBO)
I know for certain that Hollywood has a Jessica Lange law: it says that, whenever she’s in something that’s not a dumbass movie she did just for the money, just give her an award. Don’t watch it. Just hand her the Oscar or Emmy. (Remember how she won the Academy Award for Blue Sky, a film no one saw?) Well, I tried to see Grey Gardens, but I defy anyone to sit through that grim biopic. I truly believe that’s what ATAS voters did as well (although they might not have stomped on the DVD screener like I did). Nah, they just invoked the Jessica Lange rule. Neutral.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Saddam (BBC/HBO)
SUPPORTING ACTOR, MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Ken Howard, Grey Gardens (HBO)
Little Dorrit (PBS)
GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Not even a bitch on wheels like me would question Tina’s selection for that impersonization of her Alaskan doppelganger, witch in heels Sarah Palin. Good Choice.
GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Anyone who’s seen Justin Timberlake in SNL skits like “Dick In A Box”, “Give It On Up To Homelessville”, “The Barry Gibb Talk Show”, and “Mother Lover” knows he’s hilarious. (Even if those movies he’s done tanked big-time like Alpha Dog, Black Snake Moan, and The Love Guru.) Good Choice.
GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Michael J. Fox, Rescue Me (FX)
GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Ellen Burstyn, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC)