Mark J. Terrill/AP
September 21, 2008 09:10 PM

Jeremy Piven seized the opportunity as Sunday night’s first winner of the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards to crack wise about the slow opening to the ceremony at Los Angeles’s Nokia Theater.

The Entourage star, winning his third Emmy for his supporting comedy actor role as abrasive Hollywood agent Ari Gold on the HBO series, said he’d just flown in from New York, where he’s rehearsing a play, and “maybe I should go into roofing, I’m so bad.”

Thanking the few people who laughed at his remark, Piven explained it was a joke – then said: What if I just kept talking for 12 minutes, what would happen? That was the opening.”

Backstage, Piven was asked about the show’s lengthy opening, which included current celebrities delivering the catchphrases of past stars, followed by Oprah Winfrey underscoring that “television has offered us words to live by, some more colorful than others” – which was then followed by banter between the ceremony’s five hosts: American Idol‘s Ryan Seacrest, Project Runway‘s Heidi Klum, Dancing with the Stars‘ Tom Bergeron, Deal or No Deal‘s Howie Mandel and Survivor‘s Jeff Probst.

“I thought we were being punk’d as an audience,” Piven told reporters, comparing the segment to the fictional musical number in The Producers, “Springtime for Hitler.”

Asked about the how he thought the multi-person hosting gig worked, Probst – who won the reality show host Emmy – said backstage, “It’s hard to know in the middle of it how it’s going … Did it work? Hell if I know. According to Piven it clearly didn’t.”

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