The brightest stars in the TV firmament gathered at L.A.’s Microsoft Theater on Sunday night to celebrate the power of TV to move the cultural needle toward a better society as defined in certain parts of West LA. and limited sections of the Valley. Only they had a hard time being heard over all the talk, at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards, about the power of TV to deliver to the White House a reality competition series host who advocates building a wall to keep out Mexican “rapists” and urges Secret Service agents to put down their guns so Second Amendment advocates can maybe “do” something about Hillary Clinton.
“If it wasn’t for television, would Donald Trump be running for president?” Emmy host Jimmy Kimmel asked rhetorically during his opening monologue. All the Trump Talk meant no time for some deserving winners in categories missing from last night’s awards ceremony:
Least Gracious Acceptance Speech Opener Delivered by Donald Trump’s Executive Producer Award
Mark Burnett repeats in this category! Last year, the EP of Trump’s reality-TV vehicle The Celebrity Apprentice accepted The Voice’s Emmy for best Reality Competition Series by addressing the category’s 10-time winner: “Sorry, Amazing Race, it’s our year this year.”
This year, picking up The Voice’s second consecutive win in the derby, its EP Burnett said, acidly, “Hillary Clinton called me in the last few minutes and said to personally thank Jimmy Kimmel for an extra free five minutes of ABC publicity for Donald Trump. Thanks, Jimmy.”
Burnett’s ding was his response to Kimmel’s opening monologue, in which the host told viewers Burnett is the man to blame for launching Trump’s political career with The Apprentice. “Thank you for coming from England to tear us all apart with your intricate plot, you sneaky little crumpet muncher,” he joked to Burnett. Kimmel then asked the producer if Miley Cyrus or Cee-Lo Green would be our next Supreme Court justic.
Vanilla Ice Award for Bringing Rap Vocabulary to Middle-Aged White Viewers
Accepting his Best Supporting Actor Emmy for The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Sterling K. Brown ended by saying: “Contrary to popular belief, I got the hottest chick in the game rocking my chain. Ryan Michelle Bathe, you make this whole thing go. I love you.”
The nod to the Jay-Z lyric played well in the hall.
Not to be outdone, Courtney B. Vance, accepting his People V. O.J. win for Best Actor, insisted, “and last, but not least, to the woman that rocks my chain! Angela Evelyn Bassett, this one’s for you, girl!”
Steven Moffat jumped in a little later. When won the TV Movie Emmy for PBS’ Sherlock, “One last thing, I need to say: The one person I am going to thank, my wife, for the best reason of all. Not only does she rock whatever that was, but she actually produces the show. So I win Best Wife,” he insisted proudly.
But the trophy here goes to Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver, who put the one-upmanship in proper perspective. Accepting the Best Variety Talk Series Emmy, Oliver wrapped his speech joking, “And I need to thank my wife, the hottest chain — I don’t know either. Impeccably white moment onstage.”
Is this the “patriarchy” that Jill Soloway demanded be toppled as she accepted her Emmy for comedy series directing?
Chris Christie Award for Silently Standing by While Being Turned Into Punchline
Reps of Ernst & Young, the accounting firm charged with protecting Emmy voting results, got interrupted during their onstage patter by Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones.
“Thank you so much Ernst & Young,” she began. “I don’t know who this third dude is, but I really appreciate all of the hard work you do. But let’s be real. Y’all are protecting something that nobody is trying to steal. Don’t nobody want to know about boring Emmy secrets!
“But since you’re good at keeping things safe, I got a job for you: my Twitter account,” she said of the recent incident in which racist Internet trolls leaked her private photos. “Y’all using your skills to protect Best Voiceover on a French Sitcom. Meanwhile, I’m butt-naked on CNN.” The three accountants stood like mannequins until Jones cued them to walk offstage.
Bono Humanitarian Award for Hollywood Famine Relief
Two years before Chris Rock sold Girl Scout cookies to Mindy Kaling, Olivia Munn, Kate Winslet and Vice President Joe Biden during the Academy Awards, Ellen DeGeneres ordered pizza for Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep during that movie trophy show. This being the Emmys, Kimmel did not have same budget for his iteration of the Starving Stars relief effort, so his mom made PB&J sandwiches for Amy Schumer and Cuba Gooding Jr. But Kimmel also improved the gag, making the stars work for their food, reading funny notes from his mother.
Queen Victoria “We Are Not Amused” Award For Practically Perfect Punking
“Ladies and gentlemen, four-time Emmy Award winner, Dr. Bill Cosby,” the Emmy announcer said, as viewers feasted on the collective gasp in the hall followed by close-ups of various celebrities’ extremely uncomfortable/confused reax. After a beat, Kimmel walked back out onstage. “Don’t worry, he’s not really here. I just wanted to see what you guys would do,” he quipped. Wonder how many guest bookings that cost him.