Nikki Finke: Live-Snarking The 64th Emmys

The 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards by the Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences began from the Nokia Theatre in Downtown LA at 5 PM PT today… Come for the cynicism… Stay for the subversion… Add your comment… Check out all our coverage…
Warning: Not for the easily offended or ridiculously naive.

Related: 2012 Primetime Emmy Nominees
Related: 2012 Creative Arts Emmy Winners

About the only thing nice to say about The Emmys is that at least they’re not the Oscars or Golden Globes. Mercifully, the TV voters aren’t dominated by geriatrics like the Academy Awards or con artists like the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Instead, Emmy voters suffer from self-loathing because they work in entertainment’s least respected profession. Who cares if it’s the cash cow when vidiots like Donald Trump prosper in it?

The problem with this year’s Emmys from the get-go is that they don’t have any snarky categories. I know what you’re thinking: “Whaaat? The show already is too effing long!” Now reconsider if ‘TV Boobs That Jumped The Shark’ were honored. (Sofia Vergara’s.) Or ‘Best Sitcom With The Worst Lead Actress’. (My vote is for New Girl because there’s no one in primetime more annoying than Zooey Deschenal. Unless it’s the cast of Girls.)

Another problem with this year’s Emmys may be Jimmy Kimmel. He’s become a successful late night host primarily because he’s low key. But a low energy Emmy host who doesn’t sing or dance (and, crissakes, I hope he doesn’t start tonight) is just an excuse to watch the Ravens-Patriots on NBC. Besides, no standup comic can compete with NFL replacement referees.

By the way, Les Moonves once told me he thought Lara Spencer was the worst anchorette on TV. Looking at this shiksa bounce around the Emmys backstage like a pinball machine, I know why Les is TV’s smartest mogul.

The Emmys filmed opening has begun. Wow, is this lame. Except for when the wanna-be hosts popped up in the bathroom stall.

Seriously, are you telling me no writer could give Elllen Degeneres one funny line to say?

Kimmel says TV is “the only American product the Chinese haven’t figured out how to make”…”And yet one out of every 5 acting nominees tonight is British.”

Uh-oh, here come Kimmel’s political jokes. Romney and Chik-Fil-A bear the brunt of his punchlines. With that, 50% of America just turned off the Emmys muttering “godless libtards”.

Truly unfunny standup by Kimmel. Not one decent joke. I know Disney is cheap, but couldn’t it have let ABC at least pay for some writers tonight?

If those clips purport to be some of the best comedy which 2012’s sitcoms have to offer, let’s just stop handing out Emmys in this category altogether.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Eric Stonestreet as Cameron Tucker
Modern Family • ABC • Levitan-Lloyd Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television

Oh crap, I can’t believe how Max Greenfield (“Schmidt”) from New Girl was robbed! He has made his well-written stereotypical character into a real breath of fresh air on primetime. Whereas Stonestreet plays the biggest stereotypical character on Modern Family exactly like a stereotype. Where’s the skill in that?

Meanwhile, who did Jim Parsons piss off that he had to present with Deschanel? It was like an Asperger’s disorder demonstration.

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Written by Louis C.K.
Louie • Pregnant • FX Networks • Pig Newton, Inc. in association with FX Productions

I know lots of people love this show and its writing. I can’t stand it. It’s so self-conscious that the humor just evaporates for me. Plus, a less charismatic leading man has rarely been seen on TV. So I guess he deserves a certain badge of courage for writing himself so horribly.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy
Modern Family • ABC • Levitan-Lloyd Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television

This should have been a posthumous win for Kathryn Joosten for Desperate Housewives. Listen-up, Hollywood: Beautiful actresses are not funny. They don’t know how to do comedy. (As Bowen demonstrated with her acceptance speech that repeated the phrase ‘nipple covers’ 3 dozen times. To zero laughter.) Only women who grew up ugly and stayed ugly, or through plastic surgery became beautiful, can pull off sitcoms or standups. Bowen isn’t a comedienne just like Brooke Shields wasn’t and a zillion more. Because it’s all about emotional pain and humiliation and rising above both by making people laugh with you instead of at you. So stop casting beautiful actresses when you should be giving ugly women a chance. (Tina Fey always points out she looked like a troglodyte when she was younger.) This also applies to handsome men, by the way. Now argue amongst yourselves.

Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series
Steven Levitan, Director
Modern Family • Baby On Board • ABC • Levitan-Lloyd Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television

You know what I said above? Well Levitan is the exception. As Brad Grey (who used to manage Levitan) once said to me, “Steve is the only funny Jew I know who’s a perfect 40 Regular …” No wonder this guy loves the spotlight, while his partner  Christopher Lloyd stays away from events like these. Meanwhile, the secret of their success is they ignore the moronic notes from numbskull network and studio execs. Trust me when I say that sooner rather than later Levitan will be writing and directing and producing for himself as the star of his own sitcom. After all, he once told me he’s seen every peisode of Tina Fey’s 30 Rock.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
Jon Cryer as Alan Harper
Two And A Half Men • Chuck Lorre Productions Inc., The Tannenbaum Company in association with Warner Bros. Television

WHAAAT? “Don’t panic people. Something has gone terribly wrong,” the stunned Cryer said onstage. I couldn’t agree more. This is the Emmys’ idea of punking us. Unless Warner Bros TV boss Bruce Rosenblum, who’s also head of the Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences, managed to get hold of the envelope and switched the real winner Jim Parson’s name for Cryer’s. True, his studio produces both shows, but Cryer’s Emmy could squeeze another year out of CBS and add to WB’s syndication cash. Or else this was a pity fuck for Cryer for 1) putting up with Charlie all those years, and 2) putting out for Ashton this season. But let me say this: when Cryer is on the small screen, I switch the channel. ‘Nuff said.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer
Veep • HBO • Dundee Productions in association with HBO Entertainment

The good news is that Lena Dunham didn’t win for Girls. The even better news is that, if no one can prove they actually saw an episode of Veep, then we’ve uncovered one of the juiciest scandals in Emmy history. By the time I actually heard about the show, it was already off the air. At least this breaks the Seinfeld curse.

Hey, who let James Van Der Beek out of the Witness Protection Program? Katie Holmes?

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race • CBS • World Race Productions Inc.
Bertram van Munster, Executive Producer; Elise Doganieri, Executive Producer; Jerry Bruckheimer, Executive Producer; Jonathan Littman, Executive Producer; Mark Vertullo, Executive Producer; Dan Coffie, Co-Executive Producer; Giselle Parets, Co-Executive Producer; Phil Keoghan, Co-Executive Producer; Michael Norton, Supervising Producer; Matt Schmidt, Supervising Producer; Patrick Cariaga, Supervising Producer; Michael Miller, Supervising Producer; Darren Bunkley, Senior Producer; Chad Baron, Senior Producer; Neil Jahss, Senior Producer

Top Chef broke The Amazing Race streak in 2010, but the cooking show was a hot mess in Texas this season. Apparently, chefs shvitzing and fainting just can’t compete with dumbasses missing their flights or losing their passports, I guess. I don’t understand why Emmy voters keep awarding this reality contest. Don’t sane people try to spend as little time as possible in airports?

Wow, even I’m embarrassed for Seth MacFarlane, who’s rapidly turning into the biggest douchebag ever with all that stupid singing and self-adulation.

Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program
Tom Bergeron, Host
Dancing With The Stars • ABC • BBC Worldwide Productions

I’m proud to say I’ve never spent even one minute watching this show or Bergeron as its host. Not to worry: I’ve killed off many brain cells watching other TV stuff just as moronic. (Like reruns of The Nanny.)

Claire Danes is TV’s younger Meryl Streep and Laura Linney. A true acting goddess. Did you think for one sec she wasn’t the sanest nutcase on Homeland? How did she manage to pull off that duality?

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman
Breaking Bad • AMC • Sony Pictures Television

Here’s what I love about Breaking Bad and all its characters: the show has taught me what not to do when I inevitably decide someday to set up a meth lab. Hey, I don’t blame the New Mexico Governor hating on Hollywood for showing Albuquerque as either an illegal drug capital or a criminal dumping ground (In Plain Sight). No wonder the pol wants to revoke the state’s showbiz tax credits.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Written by Alex Gansa
Written by Howard Gordon
Written by Gideon Raff
Homeland • Pilot • Showtime • Showtime Presents, Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet, Fox 21

This was the season when Mad Men jumped the shark. I kept hoping it would get going eventually — not unusual for this series to start out slow — but it never did until that suicide episode. Fortunately, there was Homeland, which immediately became my new favorite drama from the first few minutes of this pilot episode. How do you know when a TV series is outstanding? It’s when each minute is exquisite torture, so good that you have to change the channel because you want to prolong the sweet agony. Now that’s great writing even if it is adapted from the Israeli series. But making it both palatable and understandable to U.S. viewers was key. And why Matt Weiner lost.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham
Downton Abbey • PBS • A Carnival / Masterpiece Co-Production

This wasn’t even a fair fight. Because who got better satiric lines than Dame Maggie both seasons? Which is why Smith won last year when Downton was in the minis/movies category

Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series
Tim Van Patten, Director
Boardwalk Empire • To The Lost • HBO • Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions in association with HBO Entertainment

The Jimmy Kimmel ‘In Memoriam’ spoof was dopey and disrespectful.

This may qualify as the worst Emmys in a long time. Not funny. Not even interesting. Just boring as hell.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody
Homeland • Showtime • Showtime Presents, Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet, Fox 21


Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison
Homeland • Showtime • Showtime Presents, Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet, Fox 21

Once again, Mad Men (and Jon Hamm and Elizabeth Moss) are blanked in the acting categories. It’s looking like a  near-Homeland sweep for the drama series. So let me say this: the only reason that Showtime has let HBO win so many series awards over the years was not only because HBO was so good (especially under Chris Albrecht) but also because Showtime was so bad. And now Showtime’s 2003-2010 architect of failure Bob Greenblatt is at NBC. What the hell was Comcast thinking? I can only hope that David Nevins is smart enough to keep buying 20th TV programming. Seriously, the hot streak that Dana Walden and Gary Newman are on is unparalled in recent history. They rule.

Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special
Written by Louis C.K.
Louis C.K. Live At The Beacon Theatre • FX Networks • Pig Newton, Inc. in association with FX Productions

Well we knew the winner in this category was not going to be the last Oscars which will go down as some of the worst writing ever. Because there was none. Just like this Emmys. I’m not even hearing any decent inside TV jokes tonight. Seriously, writers, are you too scared to piss off the powers-that-be with even a couple zingers aimed at Teflon Anne Sweeney?

Even Ricky Gervais has been de-fanged.

Outstanding Variety Series
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart • Comedy Central • Central Productions, LLC 

Liveliest shtick of the evening was Stephen Colbert and posse, who’ve never won in this category, preventing perennial winner Jon Stewart from getting to the podium. Nice touches by Stewart comparing his topical humor to “egg salad” and saying “shit” to get bleeped.

So Bill Maher lost again? I actually thought this was the best season ever. But his Emmy curse is legendary: he has been nominated 24 times — 11 for Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher, 9 for Real Time With Bill Maher, and twice for comedy specials — but he’s never won.

Oh, now I get it. Stupid me. The comedy is absent because the writers, presenters, and Hollywood audience are all practicing solemnity for Yom Kippur next week.

Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Winner
Jessica Lange as Constance Langdon
American Horror Story • FX Networks • Twentieth Century Fox Television

I made it a point never to watch Ryan Murphy’s shows after he became an insufferable egoist. Which means I’ve never seen one of his series. At least he performs a valuable service reviving the careers of former movie actresses.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Tom Berenger as Jim Vance

Hatfields & McCoys • HISTORY • Thinkfactory Media in association with History

So ‘The Hitler Channel’ is now ‘The Hatfield Channel’. At least it’s a break from the awful reality series like Ice Road Truckers, Ax Men, and Pawn Stars. Way to ruin a once-educational haven, A&E. Then again, how does A&E keep its name when it’s now nothing but garbage like  Dog The Bounty Hunter and Storage Wars. Let’s just call both the White Trash Networks. And Nancy Dubuq just keeps getting promoted for rising ratings. I don’t know which is more shameful: the programming or the public watching it.

I had the misfortune to break the news to Ron Howard that Andy Griffith had died. Just a sad, sad moment.

Please email me who was missing from the ‘In Memoriam’ segment.

Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Written by Danny Strong
Game Change • HBO • Playtone and Everyman Pictures in association with HBO Films


Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin
Game Change • HBO • Playtone and Everyman Pictures in association with HBO Films


Outstanding Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special
Jay Roach, Director
Game Change • HBO • Playtone and Everyman Pictures in association with HBO Films

No surprise that this political movie mocking Sarah Palin wins two of left-wing Hollywood’s biggest prizes. Now I’m a knee-jerk liberal, and even so it was clear to me this hatchet job couldn’t have been unfairer in tone. That said, no one else owns this category or makes more provocative movies than HBO’s Len Amato, Michael Lombardo, and Richard Plepler (who just was promoted to CEO even though most of HBO’s series suck right now). But I bet Time Warner shareholders wished that 50% of the HBO audience who are conservatives weren’t cancelling the pay channel.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Kevin Costner as ‘Devil’ Anse Hatfield
Hatfields & McCoys • HISTORY • Thinkfactory Media in association with History

So smart of WME’s Patrick Whitesell and manager JJ Harris to convince Kevin to be Kevin again — even if it is on TV. Costner in an American Western? We’re there. Of course Costner is stubborn as a mule and resisted the small screen throughout his career despite all those ass whippings by film critics in recent years. But he belongs on TV leading premium projects instead of piss-poor B movies. Now he picks up his first ever Emmy for his first ever TV role. And a hefty paycheck besides.

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie
Game Change • HBO •
Playtone and Everyman Pictures in association with HBO Films

Little wonder why this pic has put Playtone’s Tom Hanks uppermost on the right-wing’s hit list. Now he can’t open a movie because of it.

Outstanding Drama Series
Homeland • Showtime • Showtime Presents, Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet, Fox 21

Showtime’s first-ever series win. Jeez, it only took 36 years. And it foils Mad Men‘s attempt to be the first to win 5 consecutive series Emmys.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Modern Family • ABC • Levitan-Lloyd
Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television

Another three-peat for this sitcom and the network and 20th TV. Everybody knew this would win again, and yet you watched the Emmys to the end anyway. I’m paid to sit through this torture. What’s your excuse?

Please, can I have those three wasted hours of my life back? And bring back Jimmy Fallon for next year. At least he sings and dances.

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