Freshness Quotient and Moments of Inspiration Kept 62nd Annual Emmys From Sinking Into Trophy Tedium
It’s all over but the hangovers from the afterparties and Ricky Gervais’ beer being served at the 62nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards.
The host of this year's Golden Globe Awards almost stole the show as a presenter with his line about Mel Gibson going through a lot lately, but not as much as the Jews.
That was just one of the many inspired and funny moments during this year's live coast-to-coast telecast, which will go down in history as breaking “30 Rock’s” three-year reign as best comedy with a worthy successor to the crown, "Modern Family." A slew of first-time winners including Kyra Sedgwick, Jane Lynch, Jim Parsons, Aaron Paul, David Strathairn and Eric Stonestreet added to the freshness quotient.
Comedy reigned from the beginning, with host Jimmy Fallon’s grabby opener starring the “Glee” cast, Kate Gosselin, Tina Fey, Jon Hamm, Joel McHale and Betty White to the anthemic lyrics of Springsteen's "Born to Run" and then the proclamation-- after Tim Gunn began to transform his T-shirt into a tux—“Let's have some fun tonight."
Fallon confronted one of the most potentially awkward moments of the night right off the bat. Picking up an acoustic guitar and introducing himself as the host of the festivities, he said, "NBC asking a late-night host to come to L.A. and host a different show. What could possibly go wrong?"--as the audience saw a cutaway of Conan. "Too soon?" he asked, to more laughter.
But O'Brien would not win for outstanding comedy/variety series--a scenario that many on Team Coco thought would be poetic justice for his short-lived tenure as host of "The Tonight Show." In one of Emmy's longest winning streaks, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" took home the gold for the record-setting eighth year in a row, beating out the “SNL” episode starring Betty White, along with other category regulars including Colbert and Maher.
Another Emmy favorite was finally toppled from its perch after seven years running. “The Amazing Race” just couldn’t keep pace with the cooks in the kitchen of “Top Chef” this time.
For drama’s top prize, there was no dramatic shake-up to the throne. Emmy voters have not tired of the sleek, sexy, sixties world of “Mad Men,” which took the trophy for best series for the third straight year. Icing on the cake, creator Matthew Weiner walked away with the writing honor. AMC also scored a one-two punch with "Breaking Bad." Bryan Cranston won his third lead actor award and newcomer Paul joined the celebration for his supporting role.
As usual, HBO dominated the miniseries and movie categories--with its programs based on real events or people. It was one of them, the real-life Temple Grandin, whose shout-outs from award winners Strathairn, Claire Danes and director Mick Jackson turned into unscripted moments of real emotion, as when Grandin, on stage, called upon her mom to stand up in the audience.
And how can you not be somewhat enthralled with the major motion picture element of TV’s biggest night? It was a movie star trifecta, with Tom Hanks, Al Pacino (both for HBO shows) and George Clooney sucking up a lot of air in the room. The ever-charming Hanks, as executive producer of the multi-nominated “The Pacific,” made multiple trips to the Nokia podium and saw the 10-part miniseries end the evening with eight trophies.
When the always edgy and dangerous Michael Corleone, er, Pacino took the Emmy for lead actor in a television movie for the title role in "You Don't Know Jack," he shouted out to Dr. Kevorkian in the crowd, "You're all right, Jack!" (Adam Mazur, the winning writer, had said he was glad Kevorkian wasn’t his physician.)
There were other memorable acceptance speech quotes. Steve Levitan, on winning with Christopher Lloyd for writing “Modern Family,” thanked “everyone still at ABC--and our wives, without whom we’d be dating around.”
Jane Lynch, while accepting the supporting comedy actress Emmy, remarked about the youthful “Glee” cast, “When I’m not seething with jealousy, I’m so proud of you.”
Edie “the original housewife of New Jersey” Falco, in her upset lead comedy actress win for “Nurse Jackie,” said, ”I’m not funny,” even as she became the first actress to take Emmy acting trophies in both comedy and drama.
Everyone knew that George Clooney would be accepting the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award for his work in bringing televised attention to world trouble spots and the people who have suffered and are still suffering from man-made and natural disasters.
But very few people knew he'd end up as a running sight gag, in bed with the cast of "Modern Family." It was another of the show’s inspired bits that kept it from sinking into trophy tedium--as did Fallon's musical tribute to three big shows that rode off into the television sunset last season, "24," "Lost" and "Law & Order." Channeling Elton John, Boyz 2 Men and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong through some of their iconic songs, Fallon had the crowd rolling with lyrics like "The island it was mythical and everybody died. I didn't understand it, but I tried."
And as he closed the show by announcing the afterparty at Betty White’s house, Emmys 62 was really a night to remember.