Photo: Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum and William Shatner in an opening Emmy skit
by Jennifer Squires Biller
It was a big night for Tina Fey and 30 Rock and a night that the world realized that Howie Mandel should never host an awards show.
This year’s Emmys showed lots of love to basic cable shows and the actors on them (Mad Men, Damages, Breaking Bad) and the NBC comedy 30 Rock (scoring wins for Best Comedy, Lead Actress Tina Fey, Lead Actor Alec Baldwin and Writer Tina Fey.) The show also wasn’t short on political statements in this presidential election year, from actors urging viewers to vote, to swipes at the current administration
As a longtime Emmy viewer and fan, I have to say that this year’s show was one of the worst in Emmy history. No, I didn’t take my bitter pills this morning. It’s the sad truth. Here’s a rundown of my choice of highlights and lowlights, including best lines.
Best Ad-lib: “She’s bald, too.” ---The follicular challenged Bryan Cranston, looking down at his new gold Emmy for lead actor in a drama.
Biggest Hollywood diss: "At this point I was planning on doing a few more jokes, but Katherine Heigl told me my material wasn't Emmy worthy." – Conan O'Brien, ripping on Heigl, who withdrew her name from Emmy consideration, stating that she didn’t have Emmy material this year on Grey’s Anatomy.
Biggest disappointment: The Emmy opening usually sets the tone for the entire show. And what started out as a fun bit, with actors quoting famous TV lines, quickly gave way to the most awkward show opening ever, as the five show hosts (Howie Mandel, Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum, Jeff Probst, and Ryan Seacrest) stumbled through a “we’ve got nothing” comedy attempt. It proved that indeed, they had nothing. They talked over one another, rambled, and it ended with Heidi Klum stripped down to a revealing outfit. If the Emmys want to hire five hosts, instead of one, I suggest Ricky Gervais, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. They are comediennes, and frankly, the show could have used some comedy, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the tried-and-true song and dance number.
Best skit: Josh Groban’s musical medley of 30 legendary TV theme songs. Groban started out with a spot-on version of the Friends theme song, before launching into songs from The Love Boat, The Addams Family, The Brady Bunch and many more, sounding just like every one of the famous tunes. His version of Eric Cartman’s line in South Park had me howling, as well as his COPS rendition and the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Who knew Groban could rap? The guy should have received a standing ovation, but the lazy attendees stayed planted. What does it take to get these people on their feet, Oprah?
Worst skit: The Laugh-In bit. Maybe it’s a generation gap, but I don’t get it. A pie in the face as someone says “Sock it to me?” Really, that’s funny? The entire skit with actors opening and closing doors just left me confused. I know the show is a comedy legend, but if that skit is a reflection, I’m baffled as to why.
Strangest skit: Martin Sheen on the set of The West Wing, urging everyone to vote. As great as it was to see Sheen again, why is this material on the Emmys? I’d rather the time be spent to show us some actual clips of the actors and shows that were nominated. This political announcement would have been better served as a commercial or an after-school special.
Best jab at show hosts: Jeremy Piven, during his acceptance speech. " What if I just kept talking for 12 minutes? That was the opening."
Second best jab at show hosts: “Thanks to Howie Mandel's prattling, our bit has been cut."— Neil Patrick Harris, echoing everyone’s thoughts when viewers realized they wouldn’t get to hear Harris’ bit.
Best banter: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who stated at the onset of their presentation that they would not get political, as Colbert broke out a bag of prunes and began eating them. “I think right now America needs a prune. It may not be a young sexy plum. Granted, it is shriveled and sometimes hard to swallow, but this dried-up old fruit has the experience we need.” Stewart countered with, “After eight years of prunes, you would think that’s enough.” Colbert shot back, while still chewing, “Never enough. What could possibly go wrong?”
Biggest surprise: The theme song to M*A*S*H has words. Ditto for the theme to The Andy Griffith Show. Who knew? Josh Groban, apparently, when he belted out the ditties during his TV-theme-song medley.
Understatement of the night: “We’re like on the Sarah Palin bridge to nowhere, that's where we are right now…. The government can't even bail us out of this.” -- Emmy co-host Howie Mandel, who noted the lack of audience laughter during he and his co-stars’ opening monologue.
Best acceptance speech: Tina Fey, (I guess.) No one truly stood out with a fantastic speech, as opposed to years past. (Remember Steve Carell’s speech that his wife “wrote” and Greg Garcia’s people he didn’t want to thank?) At least Fey had one funny line: “I want to thank my parents for somehow raising me to somehow have confidence that is disproportionate with my looks and abilities. Well, done. That is what all parents should do.”
Worst acceptance speech: Any and all that broke out a list of names. These are award-winning entertainers, who should be giving us an entertaining speech, not rattling items off a piece of paper like a grocery list. Glenn Close, I’m talking to you.
Best politically scripted line: Kathy Griffin, as she and Don Rickles took the stage. “The world hasn’t seen a pairing like this since John McCain and Sarah Palin.”
Best unintentional laugh: Heidi Klum’s broken English, when introducing presenter David Boreanaz. Here’s how Heidi said it with her charming accent: “David Boreanaz of THE Bones.” Adorable, right?
Short but sweet: Kathryn Joosten and Tom Selleck appeared for a blink-and-you-missed it-moment. They both were presenting, but both were limited to about 20 seconds of simply announcing the awards, due to time constraints. Note to producers: If you’re going to give us the delectable Selleck, give him more airtime than a sneeze. And how dare you cut Mrs. Landingham’s bit. She’s funnier than Mandel!
Best reunion: Sally Field and Tom Hanks, former mother-son costars on Forrest Gump.. As Fields presented Hanks with his award for Outstanding Miniseries, she asked how her “boy” was and Hanks, without missing a beat, called her “mom” and replied he was fine, before launching into his famous Forrest line “You know, momma always said…”
Sharpest political jab: Kirk Ellis, winner of the writing award for miniseries for the show John Adams. “Thank you for giving me this amazing opportunity to talk about a period in our history when articulate men articulated complex thoughts in complete sentences.”
Best advice for giving good acceptance speeches: Ricky Gervais. “Keep it short, particularly if you’re not onscreen talent. No one wants to hear from a producer.”
Biggest repeat offender: Jeremy Piven wins AGAIN for best supporting actor in a comedy. I get it. He’s talented; you like him. But, can we please make room for someone else in this category? Someone like Neil Patrick Harris or Rain Wilson?
You should have listened to Kimmel: Jeff Probst accepted his award for best reality host and gave Kimmel his “told ya so” moment. “Jimmy Kimmel, you told us the ‘nothing’ bit may not work, but we stuck to our guns.”
Biggest oversight: Friday Night Lights wasn’t nominated, nor were its stars Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton. Great show, great performances, great disappointment that the show and its actors were snubbed. Shame on you, voters.
Harshest Bush bash: "I'm living proof, kids at home watching, that anybody can play the president."--- Paul Giamatti, accepting the award for outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie for President John Adams.
Biggest reality check: It’s been a decade since The West Wing began. A decade? Wow. The President himself, Martin Sheen said it, so it must be true, but it does not seem like a decade has passed since this wonderful show graced the airwaves.
Clips please!: I’m not sure how the show producers could fit this in, but if they had time for that lame opening and the lengthy presentation of the reality host award, why didn’t they give us some clips from the shows the actors are nominated for in the lead categories or clips of the nominated shows. Perhaps the Emmys need to expand an extra hour, to truly pay tribute to TV and its stars. Hey, it works for the Oscars.
Best heckling: Don Rickles rips on the writers of the Emmys for the forced banter: “Let’s read the funny lines they wrote for us.” --- (rolling his eyes.)
My picks: Everyone has someone they’re rooting for and in my opinion, Vanessa Williams and Kristin Chenoweth should have both taken home statues for their supporting comedy performances. Aliens in America’s Adhir Kalyan should have been nominated in the supporting comedy category, and Chandra Wilson should have claimed the supporting actress in a drama award for her work on Grey’s Anatomy. And the fact that Tichina Arnold, of Everybody Hates Chris, wasn’t even nominated for supporting comedy actress makes me want to scream.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Photo: Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum and William Shatner in an opening Emmy skit