Sunday night’s 61st Primetime Emmy Awards got off to a big yuk even though the first winner of the evening, Kristin Chenoweth, dissolved into tears as she accepted her golden statuette as best supporting actress in a comedy series – ABC’s canceled Pushing Daisies.
“I don’t know why I’m crying,” she said, after thanking her parents. “I’m unemployed now, and I’d like to be on Mad Men. I also like The Office and ’24’.” Chenoweth concluded by thanking the TV Academy for recognizing a show no longer on the air.
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Laughs were the order of the night. When Alec Baldwin delivered his Emmy acceptance speech for best actor in a comedy series, the 30 Rock star, grabbing his statuette from presenter Rob Lowe, told the crowd, “I’d trade this to look like him.”
Supporting actor in a sitcom, Jon Cryer, took the Emmy for CBS’s Two and a Half Men. Accepting, he said he used to think awards were shallow displays of popularity, while now he sees that they recognize true achievement. He also said of costar Charlie Sheen, “He’s amazing.”
In something of an upset, Toni Collette was named best actress in a comedy series for Showtime’s The United States of Tara over such contenders as Tina Fey, Christina Applegate and Sarah Silverman, who donned a mustache as presenter Justin Timberlake called her name from among the nominees. “That’s what hormones’ll do,” he said.
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Accepting her award, Collette called her victory “insanely confronting.”
The evening’s emcee, How I Met Your Mother supporting actor in a comedy series nominee Neil Patrick Harris, who rocked Radio City Music Hall as the host of June’s Tony Awards, again demonstrated he can sing, dance and deliver jokes with the best of them.
On the stage of Los Angeles’s Nokia Theater, he stopped the show with the opening musical number, “Put Down That Remote,” recapping highlights of the past TV season, and then announced that he grew up on television. When he lost in his category to Jon Cryer, he later interrupted the winner in the press room, to have him double-check the envelope, to make sure Cryer really won.
The night’s first win for 30 Rock was the Emmy for the writing of the “Reunion” episode, in which Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) found out she was considered cruel – and not cool – back in school.
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Among the big questions hanging over the night were the two top-nominated shows and whether they would repeat their top-prize status of last year: NBC’s 30 Rock, with 22 nods – the most in history for a comedy series – and AMC’s drama Mad Men, with 16, including those for leading players Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss.
30 Rock‘s creator, producer and star, Tina Fey, already received a Creative Emmy last weekend, for her Saturday Night Light parodies of GOP Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Also on the fans’ minds: Will the season’s No. 1 show, FOX’s American Idol, finally take away the best reality show crown from CBS’s Amazing Race? When the winner was announced, The Amazing Race won again.
On the E! Red Carpet before the show, last year’s Emmy’s winning Survivor host Jeff Probst told Idol host Ryan Seacrest he’d be perfectly happy if either of them were named this year’s best reality host. But if Dancing with the Stars‘s Tom Bergeron’s name were to show up in the envelope, Probst would storm the stage and pull a Kanye – referring to West’s interruption of Taylor Swift at last weekend’s MTV Video Music Awards.
Probst didn’t have to interrupt. He won.
For a complete list of Emmy winners and nominees, click here.