Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My 2017 Emmy Review

Okay, here’s my bitchy snarky Emmy review. Enjoy.

It’s hard to believe that one off-stage voice could completely decimate an entire awards show but that’s what happened Sunday night when Jermaine Fowler took to the mic. This was like giving a squirrel a grenade. Note to the Academy: There are some things a PROFESSIONAL voiceover announcer should have – a decent voice, DICTION, a sense of decorum, and the ability to read. Things not needed: ad libbing, especially when you’re not remotely funny, showing favoritism, and screaming. Fowler was quite simply an embarrassment. He was the drunk uncle who copped a feel of the bride at her wedding.

I think most annoying was the favoritism, shrieking every black presenter’s name as if introducing a prizefighter.

How would it sound if I said, “Please welcome Cecily Tyson, Robert DeNiro, and NORMAN LEARRRRRR!

Next year please go back to Randy Thomas. And CBS, if you want to give one of your few diverse stars more exposure, let him host the friggin’ Orange Bowl halftime show.

This was that rare award show where the acceptance speeches were generally more entertaining than the host and comedy bits. Ironically, in a show that was very meta and self-aware, most of the speeches were really sincere, emotional, and heartfelt. Ann Dowd made ME choke up.

There have been worse Emmycasts. Notably 2005 when Donald Trump was a musical guest (a role he’s more qualified for than the one he’s in now).

And speaking of our beloved President, or, as the gals from 9-5 called him, “a sexist, egotist, lying hypocritical bigot,” (of course by then all the red states had tuned out and were watching football, or if that wasn’t bloody enough, the Ken Burns documentary on the Vietnam War) Trump of course was the main target of Stephen Colbert’s opening monologue.

That’s pretty much become Stephen Colbert’s entire act. And Stephen, if you want to reach the general public, don’t do three Les Moonves jokes. Anyway, I thought he did a decent job of hosting but nowhere near as relaxed and funny as Jimmy Kimmel on last year’s Emmys (and this year’s Oscars). Well, Stephen did a decent job when Jermaine Fowler let him host. “Please welcome Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, and ANIKA NANI ROOOOOSSSSSEEEEE!!!!!!!”

The big surprise of Sean Spicer appearing in the opening monologue was met with blank stares and horror from the audience. Even Melissa McCarthy was not amused. I don’t care if he’s a good sport. I hate the son of a bitch. Who will they get next year? “Please welcome O.J. SIMMMMMPPPSSSSONNNNNN!”

Okay, more on the show in a minute. But first I must back up to the local KTLA Channel 5 “Live from the Red Carpet” show hosted by footstool to the stars, Sam Rubin and someone who doesn’t eat named Jessica Holmes. They’re always good for a few really idiotic moments.

Sam was asking Carrie Coon about getting ready for the evening. “Did you start at 7 this morning?” he said. Smoooooth.

Jessica followed by saying to Carrie: “People say you’re a very good crier. Is that a learned skill? Or are you naturally good at it?”

Sam to Matt Walsh: “You have a book coming out.” Matt to Sam: “No, I don’t.” Great preparation. Sam asked to see Matt’s acceptance speech if he won. He took a folded piece of paper out of his jacket and Sam was absolutely gobsmacked. “Ohmygod! It’s HAND written!!!”

Later Sam was interviewing Jane Fonda and gushed over how hilarious Lily Tomlin was. Has he ever MET a star before???

But my favorite exchange was when Sam said to Kathryn Hahn, “A BAD MOM’S CHRISTMAS is not nominated for an Emmy.” Kathryn then said, “It’s not a television show” and Jessica saved the moment by saying “But it could be.”

We miss you, Joan Rivers!

And now to the show.

I know it was subtle, but I think the theme this year was DIVERSITY.

Clearly the big winners were THE HANDMAID’S TALE, BIG LITTLE LIES, VEEP, SNL, and John Oliver. How many times has Bill Maher lost now? 30? 40? The Washington Generals, the team that plays the Harlem Globetrotters has more wins than Bill Maher. Of those shows, the ones I’ve seen are very deserving. Same with all the winners in all the categories. Voters got it right. Keep those screeners coming.

Next year of course, GAME OF THRONES will win all the drama awards.

That is if there IS a show. With all the reboots of series coming back, next year they could very easily just rerun the Emmy Award ceremony of 1995.

How big a deal are the Emmys? Even in Hollywood? In the Sunday Los Angeles Times CALENDAR section, there were no stories about the Emmys but there was a big one on the Toronto Film Festival.

Why was Oprah in the front row? Why does Oprah get a standing ovation? Margaret Atwood -- yes. Carol Burnett, Norman Lear, Cecily Tyson, even Lena Waithe -- sure. But Oprah?

Among the people thanked by winners: Winston Churchill and Webster.

Congratulations to John Lithgow. Yes, he’s a great actor, but more importantly, he was a terrific coach of my son’s little league team.

Oh yes, television embraces diversity. Carol Burnett received a standing ovation. However, when she made a sitcom pilot for ABC this spring that was hilariously funny and smart ABC didn’t pick it up.

And did you notice that when the president of the TV Academy was giving his speech on how excellent television is, CBS chose to run an ad for YOUNG SHELDON under him?

When they introduce presenters now they need to tell you what shows they’re on.

A lot of movie stars didn’t win (Robert DeNiro, Anthony Hopkins), which is shocking. Why do movie stars do television? Because otherwise they have to wait all the way till January to start winning awards.

Nicole Kidman won however. From now on they should start her “play off” music the minute her name is announced.

Women who looked gorgeous: Jessica Biel (she sure cleans up nice), Tatiana Maslany (in simple black), Sophia Vergara (in white Jessica Rabbit gown), Edie Falco (elegant in simple bright red), Kate McKinnon (I loved her tearful speech), and many others who didn’t get on camera so they don’t count.

This year they didn’t even bother to announce the Creative Arts winners. But we sure needed that lame bit where Stephen Colbert was interviewing RuPaul as “Emmy.” Or the screen time that Jermaine Fowler received so we could watch him mangle promos. Y’know, Jermaine, you should really sign up for “Hooked on Phonics.”

Kate McKinnon got played off just as she thanked Hillary Clinton. Was Sean Spicer cuing the music?

And how come they cut Sterling K. Brown’s speech short but let Nicole Kidman babble on forever?

In light of recent events, security was very tough. Anna Chlumsky’s dress had to go through the metal detector eight times. For actors it was the first time they didn’t get to go through TSA pre-check. Just the thought of Nicole Kidman standing in a long line tickled me.

And when Nicole complains that there are so few good roles for women, that’s partly because she takes them all.

I was applauding Alec Baldwin’s win until he said, “What we do is important.” This is the medium that gives us DATING NAKED.

But for all the hyperbole no one came close to Diane English the year she declared that MURPHY BROWN was the greatest sitcom of all time.

Tessa Thompson looked like she was wearing the NBC Peacock.

Writers always give the best speeches. Lena Waithe, who is the first African-American woman to win a Best Comedy Writing Emmy was eloquent and funny and did it in a third of time it took Nicole Kidman to thank her management team. (Lena co-wrote the episode with Aziz Ansari.) Donald Glover was witty and classy. And Dave Mandell of VEEP had the funniest speech of the night. It was actually funnier than the opening monologue. And leave it to a Jewish writer to begin his speech with “I’m out of a job.”

At 93 Norman Lear is amazing. He looked younger than the women from 9-5.

What was that blazer/mini skirt Reese Witherspoon was wearing? She looked like the first hooker to graduate from Wharton.

How does BLACK MIRROR win for Best TV Movie when it was Season 3, Episode 4 of a TV drama? (Thanks to my son-in-law for pointing that out.)

RuPaul’s checkerboard suit was the perfect look … if you’re a jester.

Can ANYONE remember last year's Best TV Movie winner? And that includes the winners themselves.

Sarah Paulson even looked beautiful wrapped in tin foil (thus bringing new meaning to Reynolds Wrap).

Hooray for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who’s won six straight times for her role in VEEP. She’s FUNNY.

I’m sure the producers of GRACE AND FRANKIE are breathing a sigh of relief. Both Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin were up for Best Actress in a Comedy. If either one had won while the other lost you could hang meat in that sound stage for the next year.

Christopher Jackson’s rendition of “As” was a lovely complement to the “In Memoriam” segment. And Mary Tyler Moore turning out the lights was the perfect poignant ending. However, this was the first time I ever cheered when I saw a name in the “In Memoriam” feature. Roger Ailes. Yeah, I know. I’m a horrible person but “see ya.”

Debra Messing looked fabulous, but why wear that Glad bag? Just cause it matched the color of your hair?

The WESTWORLD parody was very funny… if you watch and know WESTWORLD… which is like 10% of the audience.

Dolly Parton should host next year’s Emmys.

Proof that comedy is still considered a second-class citizen: the Best Comedy award was not presented at the end of the night as it usually is. This year it was given out before half a dozen drama awards.

A dolphin could jump through Heidi Klum’s hoop earrings.

John Oliver mentioned “seat fillers.” The people in the first ten rows you don’t recognize are called “seat fillers”. When the seat fillers have to go to the bathroom they’re replaced by the “nominated writers”.

Kathryn Hahn wore a sheer gown with big black dots. She looked like a game of Othello.

Elisabeth Moss got bleeped. From what I understand she thanked her mom for teaching her that “you can be kind and a fucking badass.”

Stop trying to do funny bits while introducing the accountants. They never work. You’d think after the Oscars the accountants wouldn’t want to be introduced.

Riz Ahmed was riveting in THE NIGHT OF. He beat out Robert DeNiro and deservedly so. In his speech he gave a shout-out to the South Asian Youth Action and the Innocence Project, and as he was walking off Jermaine Fowler chimed in “And a shout-out to Oprah.” I think I would have preferred Sean Spicer as the offstage announcer.

Jessica Lange is starting to look like a female impersonator.

When presenter Seth McFarlane came out with that patented smug expression I thought, “uh oh, what now? Another delightful song about tits?” It had to be something. I was right. He read the nominees in different cartoon voices. Yeah, if I’m a nominee and this is my only moment in the spotlight I want my name announced by the FAMILY GUY dog.

It’s hard to believe that one building, even one as cavernous as the Microsoft Theatre could hold the egos of both Seth McFarlane and Oprah.

Scary moment when Cecily Tyson froze while presenting. But God bless her, she recovered, and Anika Nani Rose was masterful covering for Ms. Tyson. She handled the moment with grace and ease. That, ladies and gentlemen (and Jermaine Fowler) is a PRO.

Vanessa Bayer wore the tablecloth from our Passover seder. .

When I saw Titus Burgess in his gold blazer, I expected him to take ticket stubs and show people to their seats.

Shannon Purser must’ve stolen the Jolly Green Giant’s outfit.

As deserving as all the nominees were, I still think THE MIDDLE, THE GOOD FIGHT, and THE AMERICANS deserve Emmy love. And bring back Randy Thomas.

Again, congratulations to all the winners. Happily, I know what you’re going through. It’s an amazing experience to win an Emmy. And just think – we now have one, but Donald Trump doesn’t.


Terrence Moss said...

I don't understand the issue with Oprah getting a standing-O. She's OPRAH. She has her own network! And she's Oprah. It's no more her fault than it is Julia Louis-Dreyfus's fault she won a ridiculous sixth consecutive Emmy (there are other funny women out there as well).

And CBS was very foolish to put up Jermaine Fowler to announce the show. I 1000% agree they should have hired a professional. But that Fowler was the absolute wrong choice for this is not his fault. He's just trying to work. Blame his agent and the network.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Ken, I believe you made a similar comment about Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda last year, and this year I'm going to challenge you on it. Do you know these women personally? I certainly don't, but it's my very strong impression that they are close friends with great admiration for each other's work. They're doing GRACE AND FRANKIE because they wanted to work together again. So what is your basis for claiming that they would become frosty enemies if one of them won the Emmy over the other? Just that they're both famous actresses? Because if that's your only basis, I think it's an unfair comment - not just bitchy, but actively unfair.


Stop all the Complaining said...

Ken, Not sure why you seem to have a thing against Stephen Colbert. He was excellent in this role, his monologue and other bits were outstanding, and he was far more natural and entertaining than your buddy Kimmel. He is not just about Trump- he is at least using his platform to talk about the issues and problems caused by the monster that is our President- maybe you need to take a stand yourself at some point. Your comments on Jermaine Fowler bordered on racist- why did you suggest he should host a halftime show on a football game- because that is what black people are good for- sports? Very sad Ken.

myrna said...

Glad you mentioned the moving acceptance speech by Anne Dowd as a memorable moment. I too was in tears. And the loving support that Annika Nonni Rose gave her overwhelmed co-presenter Cicely Tyson was memorable to me. Surprisingly the NY Times omitted these in their piece on 9/18 titled "Best and Worst Moments of 2017 Emmys"
Also the Times article described "Big Little Lies" as follows:
"privileged wives and mothers and their domestic struggles"
Did the reviewer bother to watch this miniseries? Or read a detailed plot summary? Or even listen to the speeches by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon? Not a mention in the paper of record about the theme of domestic abuse.

Doug Thompson said...

Always excellent snark Ken...but true snark. Off-camera (and occasionally on-camera announcer) Jermaine Fowler was truly an embarrassment. The Emmy's or CBS trying to be 'hep'.

Michael Rae said...

I wrote an article about my Emmys reaction:

Oy said...

The Family Guy Dog is just Seth MacFarlane's (note the spelling) normal speaking voice, Ken.

Mike H. said...

You made TWO "9-5" jokes?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you noticed the Audi commercials or if it was just for the "On Demand" replay, but they were very, very good.

For Ken:

They did one for Mary, too. On the broadcast version after the tag line, they had on the last screen, "Thanks, Mary" Brought me to tears.

Pam, St. Louis

Dr Loser said...

To be fair, the Washington Generals were much funnier than Bill Maher.

And either one is much funnier than, say, Ricky Gervais. So, there's that.

But, "funny?" I don't think award shows ever needed "funny," much less "ironic" funny or any other variety of the thing that actually fails on "funny." Let's get back to the days when it was a guy in a penguin suit (or a gal in a penguin suit, update it, why not?) reading off a series of cue cards, showing a clip or two, and handing over the gongs.

Elegant, memorable, and if nothing else it saves us all about an hour and a half of mental anguish that we will never be able to get back.

Phil said...

Ken I love your blog, been reading it for years. But your hatred for Seth Macfarlane is illogical. The guy could literally do anything and you'd hate it. He could walk out on stage and say "I've just donated a million dollars to cancer research, I've hired 100 new first time writers for my shows and I have a piece of evidence that will get Donald Trump impeached" and you would still think he's an ass hat. I get it, he's not your cup of tea. That doesn't mean you have to rag on him literally every time you see him on television. He announced the nominees in cartoon voice. The horror!

CRL said...

This was the 4th Annual Actors I Recognize In Shows I've Never Watched Awards.

Rod said...


Shannon Drayer writes about Kevin Cremin's retirement....

I know you are a fan of his....

MikeN said...

>Kate McKinnon got played off just as she thanked Hillary Clinton.

Even Hollywood wants Hillary to go away.

In back to back sentences you wrote:

subtle, but I think the theme this year was DIVERSITY.

Clearly the big winners were THE HANDMAID’S TALE, BIG LITTLE LIES, VEEP, SNL, and John Oliver.

Joe said...

You're right about "The Americans." It's a great show that always gets snubbed.

Anonymous said...

Seth Macfarlane is an unfunny, winking, smarmy egotist. But hey, some people thought everything Jerry Lewis did was genius, too. No accounting for taste.

Kosmo13 said...

I didn't see the Emmy telecast, but if it made you miss Joan Rivers, it must have been truly horrible.

D. McEwan said...

Frankly, I found Colbert far funnier than Kimmell. I always do, which is why I see Colbert's show every night and never watch Kimmell's.

And it wasn't being "borderline-racist" to notice what a crapola job Jermaine Fowler did. Nor was it racist to note he'd be better doing sports. Sports announcers are expected to do all that shrieking and screaming which was so inappropriate and HIGHLY annoying on the emmies. But in any event, folks with irritating nasal voices should not be hired to do announcing.

Anonymous said...

For everyone who hated Jermaine there was probably another who loved him and one more who were ecstatic to hear and see themselves in the announcer of an award show of this magnitude. Putting him in the Orange Bowl wouldn't have made that impact. The times... they are a changing.

Ralph C. said...

That's a way Ken makes a livin'! (Sort of)

VP81955 said...

Perhaps Jermaine Fowler and Yankees hack John Sterling (the Kenny Bania-Ted Baxter of play-by-play) should switch jobs...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Wendy's comment about Tomlin and Fonda. There were two actors nominated from This Is Us and one of them actually won. No jokes about the set being frosty. So the Tomlin/Fonda joke is because they are women and women are naturally catty and bitchy? Oooooo-kay. Why no jokes about the This is Us actor who lost being cold and upset?

Sure it's humour but at some point humour that perpetuates a stereotype - even about women - isn't funny anymore.

MikeN said...

Jane Fonda in every role plays the type of lady who would react that way...

MikeN said...

Friday Question- If you feel you have to explain who the Washington Generals are, then should you drop the joke?

I didn't interpret the audience reaction as horror on seeing Spicer. If it was it is hypocritical to the extreme after they cheered Roman Polanski. You say OJ Simpson is next, but I think they would not have had a problem with Ted Kennedy.

I'm surprised that this is the first time I heard of this Trump skit. If Hillary had run that instead of her hectoring, she'd be President now.

cd1515 said...

Friday question: just saw an interview with the creator of Rectify, who defended his handling of the whodunit part as he ended the series (I’ll skip the details for those who haven’t seen it):
”Well, I looked into an algorithm that could please everyone and leave everyone walking away happy and the digits were so long—it was such a huge algorithm that I don’t think it’s been developed yet.”

In general, how would you handle the finale of a series—�-does everything need to be wrapped up & explained clearly?

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...
For everyone who hated Jermaine there was probably another who loved him and one more who were ecstatic to hear and see themselves in the announcer of an award show of this magnitude."

Oh bullshit. No one wants a nasal freak screaming at them all evening. If I were posting that deeply idiotic a comment, I'd post anonymously too, Mr. Anonymous.

Tallulah Morehead said...

Was I in the "In Memoriam" reel? Asking for a friend.

Charley O. said...

"Anonymous said...
. . . who were ecstatic to hear and see themselves in the announcer of an award show of this magnitude."

Well Anonymous (and by the way, nice way to show pride in your opinion) when I see a Caucasian I don't "hear or see" myself. I see the person. I hear the person. And if that person is doing a suck filled job, I can determine that on my own without the PC police knocking at my door in the guise of Anonymous.

Kit said...

Each episode of Black Mirror is a stand-alone short film, unconnected in cast, plot or setting to the others. Maybe it could be disqualified for being too short, but not for being part of a serial.

Myles said...

You've seen announcers that look like you your entire life. It's literally all you've seen at the Emmy's since he was the 1st one ever and it's 2017. This isn't about being PC. You missed the point. Read the article. You still can't relate entirely because again you've seen great and terrible people in positions like Fowler was in your entire life. I've seen one. Perhaps the article will help you have some empathy though.

Brian said...

I cannot speak for my race and I am straight, but I didn't find your commentary objectionable. Sadly, it is easy to invoke race and/or gender in some arguments. It's akin to Rush Limbaugh being taken seriously in some circles and when attacked, hiding behind the old "I'm just an entertainer" wall (which I don't think we can bill to ANY country).

Keep 'em flying, sir! I won't even ruin your day by telling you about the group of dead Russian poets that griped to me about a certain Cheers episode...

Diane D. said...

I didn't see the Emmys, and I have written a comment supporting Ken, because years of reading this blog have me convinced he is not a racist, but I am grateful that Anonymous attached the interview with Jermaine Fowler. From what I have read (Ken's post and comments), I doubt I would have liked Mr Fowler's style for the Emmys, but I can certainly honor Myles Warden and other African American's feelings regarding the first black announcer on the Emmys. There are still many "firsts" to achieve and celebrate, and it would be impossible for an African American not to notice them. In the meantime, to have most recognize that Ken's funny, snarky column is in no way racist is heartening.