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Entertainment behind the scenes

In rerun of 2008, top Emmys go to “30 Rock” and “Mad Men”

By Dean Goodman
September 20, 2009

For those of you watching the other channel, or otherwise indisposed, here’s what happened at the 61st annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night.

5:01 p.m. Host Neil Patrick Harris takes the stage with a cabaret number extolling us to “put down the remote … don’t touch the dial … don’t hit the loo.” 

5:06 p.m. ”Here’s hoping Kanye West likes ’30 Rock,’” Harris jokes, referring to the rapper’s wee contretemps with Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards last Sunday.


5:13 p.m. “I’m unemployed now, so I’d like to be on Mad Men. I also like ‘The Office’ and ’24,’” says the co-star of the canceled show, which picked up three Emmys at the “creative arts” portion of the Primetime Emmys last Saturday. 

5:21 p.m. BEST WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES: MATT HUBBARD (“30 ROCK”). His “Reunion” episode beat three other “30 Rock” episodes.

5:25 p.m. BEST SUPPORTING COMEDY ACTOR: JON CRYER (“TWO AND A HALF MEN”). His first win after four Emmy nominations. “I used to think that awards were just shallow tokens of momentary popularity,” he said. “But now, I realize they are the only true measure of a person’s worth as a human being.”

He said the show’s nominated star, Charlie Sheen, should get an Emmy, too. “This is yours,” he said to Sheen. Interestingly, fellow nominees such as Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”) and Jack McBrayer (“30 Rock”) got louder applause when the nominations were read out.

5:35 p.m. First shock: BEST COMEDY ACTRESS: TONI COLLETTE (“UNITED STATES OF TARA”). First win by Australia this year. “This is insanely confronting,” she says. Justin Timberlake, the presenter, clearly was not expecting the win. Tina Fey was hoping for a second consecutive win, but she did win a statuette last weekend for her guest role on “Saturday Night Live.” Nominee Sarah Silverman wore a mustache. “That’s what hormones will do,” Timberlake says.

5:39 p.m. Fey and Timberlake on the stage to give acceptance speeches for their guest-starring Emmys last weekend, both for turns on “Saturday Night Live.”

5:41 p.m. “THE OFFICE” finally gets some Emmy recognition this year as JEFF BLITZ win for BEST COMEDY DIRECTING. The show has nine nominations overall. “30 Rock” had three nominations in this category. It’s only the fourth Emmy ever for “The Office.”

embald5:50 P.M. BEST COMEDY ACTOR: ALEC BALDWIN (“30 ROCK”), for the second year. He dedicates his award to the show’s producer, Lorne Michaels — “the greatest boss you could ever have.” The award was presented to the portly actor by the svelte Rob Lowe. “To be honest, I’d trade this to look like him,” he says. Baldwin’s co-star Jane Krakowski struggles to hold back tears.

Best comedy will be announced at the end of the ceremony. ”30 Rock” leads the field with 22 nominations overall. The NBC comedy picked up two awards last Saturday, and added two at the main event. It will fall short of last year’s total of seven, which included best comedy.

“MadMen,” with 16 nominations this year, grabbed one last Saturday, and is up for nine nominations in six categories. The AMC drama won six Emmys last year, including best drama, but none for acting. This year, Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss and John Slattery will hope to break that dry spell. 

5:58 p.m. REALITY SHOW HOST: JEFF PROBST (“SURVIVOR”). Noting last year’s disatrous co-hosting gig by reality-show hosts, Probst says to Harris: “This is how you host the Emmys. Nice job.” He implores everyone to live their dreams because life is short.

6:06 p.m. BEST REALITY SERIES: “THE AMAZING RACE” continues its unbroken, seven-year streak. Says Harris: “Unbelievable. Upsets at every turn.”

6:10 p.m. Now it’s onto the miniseries/TV movie section. Big contenders are ”Little Dorrit,” “Grey Gardens” and “Into the Storm”

emshoh6:11 p.m. SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN MINISERIES/MOVIE: SHOHREH AGHDASHLOO (“HOUSE OF SADDAM”). Her first win, first nomination. The Tehran-born actress is wearing a green wristband in support of protesters in her native country.

6:13 p.m. SUPPORTING ACTOR IN MINISERIES/MOVIE: KEN HOWARD (“GREY GARDENS”). Also his first win and nomination. Second Kanye West joke with a political bonus: “I’ll make my speech short in the the hope that it won’t be interrupted by a congressman or a rapper.” He thanks a stuntwoman who gave him a spare kidney. This is the fourth win for “Grey Gardens,” which scored 17 nominations overall.

6:22 p.m. LEAD ACTOR IN MINISERIES/MOVIE: BRENDAN GLEESON (“INTO THE STORM”). The Irish actor wins the project’s second award, for playing Winston Churchill. He thanks the producers for allowing his mother to watch an early cut just before she died. The WWII drama has 14 nominations overall.

6:24 p.m. “LITTLE DORRIT” wins its fifth Emmy as absentee winner Andrew Davies is honored for BEST WRITING. 

6: 26 p.m.  Make that six wins for “LITTLE DORRIT” thanks to DEARBHIA WALSH for BEST DIRECTOR. And another win for Ireland. She thanks her partner for watching the cuts and giving her notes. “It looks like there’s three of us in the bed tonight.”

emjess16:32 p.m. JESSICA LANGE wins BEST ACTRESS IN MINISERIES/MOVIE for “GREY GARDENS.” She beats co-star Drew Barrymore. She thanks, among many people, Albert Maysles, the co-director of the documentary that inspired the HBO show, and the eccentric subjects, Big Edie and Little Edie.

6:41 p.m. Another win for “GREY GARDENS” with BEST TV MOVIE. It ended up with five awards overall, from 17 nominations.

6:44 p.m. A 50/50 chance of winning BEST MINISERIES, as “LITTLE DORRIT” predictably beats “Generation Kill.” That makes it seven for the BBC/PBS Dickens adaptation.

6:45 p.m. The show moves into the variety section where there are four categories.

6:50 p.m. “AMERICAN IDOL” wins the DIRECTING award, with Briton BRUCE GOWERS accepting for the first time after seven nominations. Did he really direct the Queen video for “Bohemian Rhapsody”? A Google search says, Yes. Mamma Mia!

6:54 p.m. After half of the Manhattan phone book is read out, the winner for BEST WRITING is “THE DAILY SHOW.” Jon Stewart was the designated speaker, but he was beaten to the mike by a speechless colleague who eventually said, “I haven’t had anything to say since George Bush left office.”

7:00 p.m. Jimmy Fallon and his Autotune device take the stage for the MUSIC AND LYRICS award, which goes to the crew for the 81st annual Academy Awards. The one with Hugh Jackman. A great day for “the dumbest, dumbest ugliest people.”

emrick17:06 p.m. Ricky Gervais on the stage, with the best jokes of the night. Here’s what he said. “This the greatest awards ceremony in the world … The thing about the Oscars and the Golden Globes is they’ve got film stars there, with their jawlines and chiseled looks, making me feel bad. But in this room, I’m probably above average. Yeah, definitely. (Tom Hanks jokingly shakes his head). Steve Carell is considered handsome. Think of that! Rainn Wilson, well. … We’ve got to be honest. He is weird, even in this company. I can have a go at ’The Office’ because I’m executive prodecer, whatever that means. I’ll tell you what it means. It means I created the show so I sit at home and wait for the checks to come through. Oh yes. Syndication. They said, ‘Oh syndication’s not what it used to be.’ Take another look. Audit.  That joke just for the 5,000 people in this room, not for the 5,000 people watching at home. I’ve pissed off two networks in one minute. That is good going.”

7:08 pm. “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART” wins VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SERIES. Stewart offers more kudos to Harris, but it’s not easy  following Gervais.

The end is near. Drama series now.

7:19 p.m. MICHAEL EMERSON wins SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA for “LOST.” “I feel like I’m living out a character actor’s dream,” said Emerson, who previously won an Emmy for his guest role as a killer in “The Practice.”

7:21 p.m. Hail to the Chief! CHERRY JONES wins SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA for “24.” It’s only the second acting statuette for the veteran drama, following Kiefer Sutherland’s best actor win in 2006.

7:22 p.m. Sarah McLachlan sings “I Will Remember You” during the In Memoriam section. Patrick Swayze, Natasha Richardson and Paul Newman get the loudest cheers. Honorable mentions to Ron Silver, Dominick Dunne, Michael Jackson, Larry Gelbart and Farrah Fawcett.

Six awards left.

7:33 p.m. Michael J. Fox and Ellen Burstyn, winners last weekend of drama guest acting Emmys, present the DIRECTING and WRITING awards. ROD HOLCOMB (“ER”) is the absentee winner of the former, while KATER GORDON and MATTHEW WEINER win for writing the “MAD MEN” episode “Meditations in an Emergency.” It’s the first win tonight for 16-time nominee “Mad Men,” which previously won a prize at the creative arts portion. Weiner says he may be the only person at the venue who has “complete creative freedom … When you get something like this, it makes writing look fun. But it’s not!” He offered a piece of advice to struggling writers. “If you’re out there, just hang in there and remember that when you look down the row at that guy at Starbucks with the computer, it’s probably one of us.”

7:39 p.m. GLENN CLOSE (“DAMAGES”) wins for LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA for the second year. “We all go where there’s great writing,” she says. It’s her third Emmy overall.

embry7:48 p.m. Life is unfair? BRYAN CRANSTON wins the LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA prize for “BREAKING BAD” for a second year. “I’m thankful for so many things. Lee Trevino was struck by lightning twice and now I know how he feels,” he says. “I’m a poor kid from the (San Fernando) Valley. I don’t know what I’m doing up here. I feel like Cinderfella.” And that means no acting prizes, yet again, for “Mad Men.”

7:53 p.m. For the third consecutive year, “30 ROCK” is named BEST COMEDY. Star/creator Tina Fey thanks the network suits for “keeping us on the air even though we are so much more expensive than a talk show.”

Final award still to come, best drama…

8:00 p.m. Shock! “MAD MEN” wins BEST DRAMA for second year. “We worked very hard to not have it stink the second year,” creator Matthew Weiner says. “It is an amazing time to work in TV and I know that everything is changing but I’m not afraid of it because I feel like all these different media, it’s just more choice and more entertainment and it’s better for the viewers in the end, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”


Yes, it is about time that “The Office” get some much deserved recognition, even though I strongly believe that Rainn Wilson is a better comedic actor than John Cryer from “Two and a Half Men”. Still, very nice.


great job mr. goodman. im glad i didnt waste my time in front of tv all night, you did all the job for me. smart comments! tks!

Posted by anna | Report as abusive

Hugh Laurie has won the Screen Actors Guild award for best actor in a TV drama for the last two years, voted on only by actors. I can’t figure out why his incredible performance as House continues to not be acknowledged by Emmy voters.

Posted by Irene | Report as abusive

30 Rock is funny, though. Not as funny as something like Scrubs (which is CONSTANTLY passed up) but it is a good show…


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