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Emmys struggle to adapt to new format, different host

Cassie Belek | Tuesday, September 18, 2007

7:59 – Hey Scene enthusiasts! Here’s my minute-by-minute reaction to the triumphs and disappointments of the 59th annual Emmy Awards. Can the Emmys make it without a comedian hosting? Are Rainn Wilson and Kanye West the unlikeliest pairing in Emmy history? Let’s find out.

8:03 – After an opening number starring Stewie and Brian from “Family Guy,” Ryan Seacrest finally walks out on stage to the sounds of “Party Like a Rock Star.” That’s not exactly a song I would associate with him.

8:07 – So the stage is circular and the audience has to sit around it. I find a few things wrong with this setup. 1) I’m getting dizzy, 2) It looks like the set of a game show and 3) Half of the room has to face the backs of the presenters and winners. All the pretty people deserve a good view, not just a select few.

8:08 – We’re spared a song and dance number from Ryan Seacrest, but now we have to endure a humorless bit from Ray Romano.

8:10 – Ray Romano is still talking. My friend and I are losing interest fast. This doesn’t bode well for the rest of the night.

8:13 – Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”) wins for Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series? I love Ari Gold, but this award totally belongs to either Rainn Wilson or Neil Patrick Harris.

8:14 – America Ferrera and Vanessa Williams look beautiful, but couldn’t the writers have given the actresses some “Ugly Betty”-like banter? I think I’m going through Wilhelmina Slater withdrawal.

8:15 – Terry O’Quinn (“Lost”) wins for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, but I think he should win an Emmy for his hot pink satin shirt and bedazzled black tie. He’s a man who’s not afraid to sparkle.

8:23 – The winner for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series is about to be announced. If Vanessa Williams doesn’t win there will be consequences.

8:24 – Jaime Pressly? She’s good on “My Name is Earl” but she’s no Vanessa Williams. The world better prepare itself for my wrath.

8:51 – Tony Bennett and Christina Aguilera are performing. Bennett’s good, but I’m focused on Christina’s beautiful raspberry gown and blatant baby bump. Confirm it already Christina!

8:53 – Alec Baldwin is presenting an award immediately after Tony Bennett’s performance. Does anyone else want him to bust out his “Saturday Night Live” Bennett impression?

8:58 – A Vanessa Hudgins joke, Seacrest? Really? I’m a little disappointed between that one and the Hayden Panettiere joke from earlier. Junior high humor doesn’t suit the Emmys.

9:03 – Poor Queen Latifah. She’s leading a tribute to the 30th anniversary of “Roots” but the teleprompter is awkwardly too high for her line of vision.

9:09 – Ugh. Another sleazy joke about Hayden Panettiere while standing next to Hayden Panettiere. I expected more from you, Neil Patrick Harris.

9:28 – Marcia Cross looks terrible. That is all.

9:39 – It’s a tribute to “The Sopranos”! The cast of “Jersey Boys” sings Frankie Valli songs while clips from “The Sopranos” play in the background. It’s slightly strange, but I never turn down a performance from the cast of a Broadway musical.

9:44 – “The Sopranos” family members have come up through a stage trap door. It’s almost as if they rose from the dead … Is this a secret clue, David Chase? Did the Sopranos clan perish after the blackout? Am I overanalyzing this entrance?

9:50 – And Helen Mirren (“Prime Suspect: The Final Act”) wins for Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. Shocking.

9:51 – Mirren gives fabulous acceptance speeches doesn’t she? She says, “I’m going to keep talking till that very dramatic music comes in.” I love that.

9:52 – My friend: “Whoa! The microphone just got swallowed by the stage!”

9:53 – My friend’s very thankful that out of all the things she has said tonight, I’m quoting her on that one.

9:54 – What is Lewis Black talking about? What is he ever talking about?

9:55 – My friend: “They’re not funny, these comedian people.” Touché. So far the comedians have disappointed.

10:08 – Brad Garrett’s boob jokes are the most tasteless words spoken tonight. This is Disappointment No. 132.

10:09 – And Colbert loses to another legendary performer in the Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.

10:10 – Tony Bennett thanks Target. I would also like to thank Target, just because.

10:12 – I now aspire to be as sassy and wonderful as Elaine Stritch (“30 Rock”). After stumbling with words she says, “I’m not faking this. I really don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” Can she host the Emmys next year, please?

10:24 – Kanye West, Rainn Wilson and Wayne Brady unite!

10:29 – Their bit is cute, but I still won’t watch “Don’t Forget the Lyrics.”

10:39 – Upset of the evening! Ricky Gervais (“Extras”) wins for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. I secretly wanted him to win, but didn’t think it was possible with the popularity of Steve Carell and Alec Baldwin. But wait! Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert allow Carell to accept the award for Gervais. What an emotional “Daily Show” reunion this is!

10:41 – Sally Field (“Brothers & Sisters”) wins for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, but she gets censored when she starts speaking out against war. I’m not a big fan of political statements at award shows, but I’m also not a big fan of censorship at award shows.

10:52 – America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”) wins for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. That’s a beautiful blue she’s wearing. It’s too bad her cast mates can’t see her face during her speech since they’re stuck behind her.

10:55 – What? What just happened? I spoke too soon. The biggest upset of the evening is James Spader (“Boston Legal”) winning for Lead Actor in a Drama Series instead of James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”). I’m actually speechless, but he’s not and he’s funny! He says, “You know I’ve been to thousands and thousands of concerts in my life, and I can tell you these are the worst seats I’ve ever had.” Thank you!

11:02 – Eek! “30 Rock” just won for Comedy Series. It’s what I hoped and dreamed. Tina Fey thanks their dozens and dozens of viewers. Watch this show, people. Don’t let it suffer the same fate as “Arrested Development.”

11:08 – “The Sopranos” wins for Drama Series. At least something was predictable tonight. I don’t remember the last time I wished for predictability at the Emmys, but too many of tonight’s surprises were unwelcome (to me at least).

11:11 – Seacrest didn’t say “Seacrest, out!” What a semi-disappointing ending to a semi-disappointing Emmys.