Emmy night notables
Moments that you did, didn't and maybe wish you hadn't seen or heard.
As actress Christina Applegate's television mom on "Samantha Who?" Jean Smart said backstage that she feels "very protective" of her colleague, especially when Applegate told her she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Smart, holding her Emmy for supporting actress in a comedy, said, "I was shocked when she told me. I started to cry a little bit. I started to tear up and said, 'This is not because I think anything's going to happen to you.' "I just hated that she has to go through this," Smart said in the press tent after receiving her award. "She's very spiritual, very strong. She'll make it."
On stage, Don Rickles took some potshots at the Emmy broadcast's entertainment value, and even gave one of his co-presenter Kathy Griffin's jokes the thumbs down. But back in the press tent, seated in a director's chair clutching his statuette and being called a "legend" by a fawning scrum of reporters, the caustic comedy icon -- a guy for whom "hockey puck" is a term of endearment -- played nice. "Tonight was very entertaining," said Rickles, 82. "There's that British gentleman" -- he was referring to Rickey Gervais -- "Jon Stewart and Stephen [Colbert]." "You have to work at it," he continued. "It's not geared toward 'Ha, ha, ha.' There are times when it has to be serious. All in all, I think they did a good job. I really do."
After "The Colbert Report" took home the Emmy for outstanding writing for a variety, music or comedy program, star Stephen Colbert popped in to the press tent in a lively mood. When asked if he were casting a film, who he would pick to play John McCain, Colbert replied, "Rickles, obviously, would be good, and maybe me for Sarah Palin, 'cause I also have absolutely no business being vice president."
Howie Madel kicked off the evening's few political jokes with a jab at Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. As the five Emmy hosts opened the evening with a drawn out bit about not being prepared with any material, Mandell quipped: "We are like on Sarah Palin's bridge to nowhere."
Once again, "The Amazing Race" won for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program. In the press tent after his show's sixth straight win, producer Jerry Bruckheimer was asked whether he would ever withdraw it from consideration to give somebody else a chance. "I doubt it. I really do," Bruckheimer said. "We love these statues."
Barry Sonnenfeld, the always entertaining film and TV director won an Emmy for directing the magical pilot of ABC's "Pushing Daisies." "Bryan Fuller deserves this Emmy with me," Sonnenfeld said of the show's creator. "So much of what he wrote is what I get credit for." Sonnenfeld didn't mention the behind-the-scenes drama that beset him at the beginning of last season when media reports detailed that Sonnenfeld had left the series over differences with Warner Bros. President of Television Peter Roth and ABC President of Entertainment Steve McPherson. "That was a coup attempt by an executive producer who is no longer on the show who tried to get me off the show," Sonnenfeld said. "There was never a weird relationship with Peter Roth. I love Peter. This is not me doing a fake, 'I like Peter' thing. Last week, Peter and I had a conversation about our future together. And McPherson, who I referred to as a Mr. Happy. Obviously, he's been fantastic."
Over the course of his nine years in the spotlight, singer-songwriter Josh Groban has had more than a few evocative descriptors attached to his name: "popera" singer, balladeer, multi-platinum selling international superstar, total cheeseball. But "mash-up artist" was not on that list until tonight when Groban ran through an impressive medley of some 27 theme songs from classic TV shows. More affecting still, he managed to pump a degree of genre authenticity into each tune. Groban's take on "The Jeffersons" was all soaring gospel, he rapped his way through the hip-hop opening of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," sounded authentically lounge lizard-y covering "The Love Boat" and even summoned a little Jamaican mojo to belt out Inner Circle's reggae anthem "Bad Boys," the theme for "Cops." And while it was impressive in range, well, that "cheeseball" title has returned.
The first hour of the show turned political when Tommy Smothers, accepting a commemorative Emmy for outstanding writing, offered this salute: "Freedom of expression and freedom of speech aren't really important unless they're heard It's hard for me to stay silent when I keep hearing that peace is only attainable through war. And there's nothing more scary than watching ignorance in action. So I dedicated this Emmy to all the people who feel compelled to speak out and not afraid to speak to power and won't shut up and refuse to be silenced." A bit later Laura Linney, after winning best lead actress in a miniseries or movie, nodded to Barack Obama by saying that the experience of working on "John Adams" has made her "so grateful and thankful for the community organizers that helped found our country."
Jeremy Piven raised eyebrows when he picked up the telecast's first trophy on Sunday and promptly dissed the chaotic opening by the show's five hosts--Ryan Seacrest, Jeff Probst, Tom Bergeron, Howie Mandel and Heidi Klum. Backstage, he continued the rant. "I thought we were being punked as an audience," Piven said, as she swigged a flute of champagne. "I was confused. It was awkward. Like that moment in the movie, "The Producers,' there was springtime for Hitler. In that moment, you asked what's actually happening. I was confused, as I'm sure you were."
What can't Ricky Gervais do? The creator-star of BBC's "The Office" and HBO's "Extras," not only offered sage speech advice -- "Keep it short, please, particularly if you're not on-screen talent. No one cares about the producer. Don't cry. It's pathetic. It's just an award" -- he also gave the night its first funny moment, wresting his 2007 Emmy from Steve Carell, who had accepted the lead actor in a comedy award on Gervais' behalf when he couldn't attend the show. "Look at his stupid face. Couldn't win one of his own, so he stole someone else's," Gervais said to a stone-faced Carell. "I made him who he is and I get nothing. Have you been to see 'Ghost Town' yet? I sat through 'Evan Almighty.' Gimme my Emmy."
-- Contributors: Maria Elena Fernandez, Matea Gold, Chris Lee and Stephanie Lysaght