Emmycast 2011: Awards for Mad Men, Modern Family and Kyle Chandler surrounded by awfulness
Viewers could be forgiven for getting a bit of whiplash Sunday night while watching the 63rd Primetime Emmy awards.
That’s because, even as the Emmy academy was making some of its most satisfying award choices in recent years – handing honors to the cast of ABC’s Modern Family, legendary director Martin Scorsese, Friday Night Lights star Kyle Chandler, newcomer Melissa McCarthy and longtime actress Margo Martindale – it aired some of the most embarrassing Emmy performances in recent memory.
Some of the wins were mightily expected. Mad Men took home its fourth Emmy as best drama series, while Modern Family won a second time as TV’s best comedy and The Daily Show won its ninth Emmy as best variety show.
“A gay couple came up to us and said ‘You're not just making people laugh, you’re making them more tolerant,’” said series executive producer Steven Levitan. “We are showing the world there is absolutely nothing wrong with a loving, committed relationship between an old man and hot young woman. And looking around this room tonight, I see many of you agree."
If only the Emmys' scripted stuff had been that brilliant.
Don’t blame host Jane Lynch, who tried mightily to elevate a string of lackluster gimmicks, including having stars such as Chuck’s Zachary Levi and Community’s Joel McHale sing snarky introductions to awards in a woeful bit called the Emmytones (thank God they got LL Cool J to liven it up with a rap number at the end.)
Lynch even uncorked one of the night’s best lines, introducing a certain team of presenters: “A lot of people are very curious why I'm a lesbian….Ladies and gentlemen, the cast of Entourage."
My own Emmy track record was a bit mixed. I correctly predicted wins for Modern Family as best comedy, The Good Wife's Juliana Margulies for best dramatic actress and Mad Men as best drama. And weeks ago, I advocated for Martindale and Game of Thrones co-star Peter Dinklage, who won big as supporting actress and actor in dramas. But I never expected Chandler to ace Jon Hamm as best dramatic actor or Mike and Molly's McCarthy to take best comedic actress. Sometimes Emmy can make more sense than even a critic expects.
And controversy sparked before the Emmycast barely started, as news broke that a pre-taped skit featuring Alec Baldwin cracking a joke about the phone hacking scandal facing mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. was cut from the show. Small wonder: the Emmycast aired on News Corp.-owned Fox network.
The cut joke prompted Baldwin to ask for his part to be removed, placing Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy in the role as president of television instead (according to the New York Times, Baldwin was on the phone with an unnamed colleague saying, “Rupert, is that you? I hear you breathing, Rupert.”)
“If I were enmeshed in a scandal where I hacked phones of families of innocent crime victims purely 4 profit, I’d want that 2 go away 2,” Baldwin posted on Twitter just before the broadcast started.
No matter. The awards handed out Sunday more than made up for the awfulness surrounding them, with the night unfolding as one of those rare showbiz spectacles where the right people won – most of the time.
McCarthy and Martindale topped that list -- winning for best comedy actress and best supporting actress in drama, respectively – women of a certain body type and experience who have found their greatest career success by nailing some unforgettable performances. (though McCarthy, who co-stars in the CBS sitcom Mike and Molly, has been getting more raves for her role in the movie Bridesmaids).
“Sometimes things just take time,” said Martindale, who won for her powerhouse role as backwoods crime boss Mags Bennett on FX’s Justified. “But with time comes great appreciation.”
Among a string of awkward moments Sunday, the appearance by former Two and Half Men star Charlie Sheen may have been the worst. Midway through an apology tour of sorts, which has found him trying to explain the blast of mania which got him bounced from TV’s highest-paying job, Sheen could only offer humorless platitudes with an enthusiasm mostly seen in hostage videos.
“From the bottom of my heart, I wish you nothing but the best for this upcoming season,” he said, sounding a lot like he was reading an attorney-approved statement.
(My gossipy question: Did he bump into former co-star Jon Cryer and his new co-star Ashton Kutcher, who also presented? Hmmm.)
(UPDATE: Looks like he did. h/t to Deadline Hollywood Daily)
Even Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons, handed the best comedy actor Emmy by Sheen, couldn’t resist commenting on the moment. “This is so odd for so many reasons,” he said, laughing loudly. “I was assured by many people in my life that this would not happen.”
I think he was talking about winning a second Emmy, right?
Chandler, star of the now-concluded series Friday Night Lights, won as best actor in a drama, a fitting win which nevertheless continued long losing streaks for both Mad Men’s Jon Hamm and House’s Hugh Laurie.
And even host Lynch lost out Sunday to Bowen as Fox’s Glee went winless in major categories. “If I didn’t have to host the show, I’d be home by now by now eating a cup of turkey meatballs in the dark,” she cracked.
Given how awfully most of the performances turned out Sunday, that might not have been a bad plan from the start.