On Sept. 21, Tina Fey was crowned the new Queen of TV by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS). Voters awarded Fey three Emmys for producing, acting and writing NBC’s “30 Rock.” “30 Rock” broke a record coming into the ceremony as the most nominated comedy ever with a whopping seventeen nominations. The comedy picked up seven trophies altogether, which ties the sum “All in the Family” won back in 1972. The two shows are the most winning comedies ever at the Emmys.
Accepting on behalf of the winning producers of “30 Rock,” Fey mentioned that the cast and crew “are all very, very grateful to have jobs in this turkey burger economy.” Fey later stated in the press room that “Alec [Baldwin] was just saying. maybe this means I can stop apologizing for being an actor,” following her win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Since Fey is primarily known as a writer, many have criticized her acting abilities; however, she has come far this past year winning the Golden Globe, SAG and now, the Emmy.
The presentation of the awards was surprisingly dismal for a show celebrating its sixtieth anniversary. The five hosts of the show (Tom Bergeron of “Dancing with the Stars,” Heidi Klum of “Project Runway,” Howie Mandel of “Deal or No Deal,” Jeff Probst of “Survivor” and Ryan Seacrest of “American Idol”), were tiring?CM and planned nothing for their opening, in order to enhance the “reality” aspect of their jobs. The five hosts of the telecast were chosen after a new category was created, just for them.
“We are on Sarah Palin’s bridge to nowhere,” said Howie Mandel, in reference to the hosts’ lack of preparation for the evening.
Throughout the show, various sets of presenters proved why they would make better hosts than the five chosen by executive producer Ken Ehrlich. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (“Saturday Night Live”) proved to be a winning combination as well as the effervescent Kristin Chenoweth (“Pushing Daisies”) and dapper Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”).
“Thanks to Howie Mandel’s prattling, our bit has been cut,” said Harris.
“Bitter, party of two,” Chenoweth retorted after she and Harris had their material cut due to the show running over time.
On the comedy side, Alec Baldwin won his first Emmy as Jack Donaghy for Outstanding Lead Actor for “30 Rock,” which contributed to one of the seven wins for the show. Baldwin gave a flashy performance in his submission reel where he “helped” Tracy Morgan’s character through a series of issues he had as a child.
Jeremy Piven won a third consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor as Ari Gold on HBO’s “Entourage.” While Piven is impressive on the show, it would have been refreshing if voters chose Neil Patrick Harris or Rainn Wilson (“The Office”). It is unfortunate that John Krasinski (“The Office”) and Chi McBride (“Pushing Daisies”) went without nominations because they gave some of the best performances last season.
Jean Smart rounded out the winners for Outstanding Supporting Actress as Regina Newly on ABC’s “Samantha Who?” Smart accredited her win to star Christina Applegate, who has just recovered from a double mastectomy following a brief bout with breast cancer late last summer.
One highlight of the evening marked Steve Martin’s appearance to present a Commemorative Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy to Tommy Smothers; a man who was never afraid to bend the rules. Smothers dedicated his award to those out there who refuse to remain silent and speak up for what they believe in.
Josh Groban received mixed reviews for his tribute to television’s most memorable theme songs. Groban put forth his best effort trying to capsulate famous theme songs ranging from “Friends” to “The Jeffersons” to “Cops” to “Baywatch.” Although he is mostly known for his more mature, operatic work, Groban can rap the theme to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” as well as Will Smith himself. Well, he is not quite as good as Smith, but his interpretation of “South Park” was fantastic and it was one of the few highlights from the three hour show.
Broadcast and subscription cable dominated the drama side of the Emmys. AMC’s “Mad Men” won Outstanding Drama Series while Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” defeated James Spader, who has already won three Emmys as Attorney Alan Shore on “The Practice” and “Boston Legal,” in the race for Outstanding Lead Actor. The little watched “Damages” on FX won for its stars Glenn Close in Outstanding Lead Actress and Zeljko Ivanek in Outstanding Supporting Actor. Two-time Academy Award winner Dianne Wiest took home the trophy for a less than stellar reel as Gina on HBO’s “In Treatment,” defeating favorites Candice Bergen (“Boston Legal), Rachel Griffiths (“Brothers & Sisters”) and Chandra Wilson (“Grey’s Anatomy”).
Aside from “30 Rock,” the HBO miniseries “John Adams” broke a new record, winning 13 Emmys-the most ever for any miniseries in the history of the Emmys. Previously, the record was held by 1976’s “Eleanor and Franklin” and 2004’s “Angels in America” with 11 awards apiece. Tom Hanks accepted the award, as one of the executive producers himself, from Sally Field, who played his mother in “Forrest Gump.”
“Have you been a good boy?” Field asked Hanks as she handed him the trophy.
“Yes, I’ve been fine mom,” Hanks said.
The Emmys averaged 12.2 million viewers throughout the three hour broadcast, according to Variety. This is a record low for the ceremony, which is unsurprising due to the low-rated nature of the series nominated.
Next year, the Emmys will be held on CBS, and hopefully they have the decency to not short change the winners and find one, capable host, who will move the show forward for what is supposed to be a reflective and fun night of television.