Cultural Learnings’ 2008 60th Primetime Emmys LiveBlog

I’m foregoing the Jimmy Kimmel-style opening hour that ABC is airing (Edit: Or I was, until a particular moment), or any of the red carpet deals, in favour of digging into some of the actual awards themselves. I wrote my predictions late this week, and had planned to write up more of a general preview, but time got away from me.

In truth, there’s isn’t much to say that I didn’t say when the nominees were announced: it’s an awards show that offers the most opportunity for legitimate winners accepted by both viewers and critics that the Emmys have seen in recent years. At the same time, it also has every opportunity to remove all relevance the Emmys could ever have. This is the double edged sword of having more progressive nominees: the fall from grace is only going to be harder.

For example, the Best Actor in a Drama Series category is like a ticking time bomb: Hugh Laurie, Michael C. Hall, Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston, Gabriel Byrne all stand as strong candidates from well-liked shows, but James Spader (Three-time winner in the category) sits waiting to wipe out any sort of optimism we may have about the rest of the awards. Even those of us who watch the Emmy Awards with great interest are going to be shaken by such a decision: as the night goes on, we are going to have many of these moments, beacons of hope either raised up or snuffed out.

So, follow along as we go on this epic rollercoaster ride, this wondrous journey through a year in television as a bunch of (likely) out of touch or (hopefully) intelligent saw it.

7:30pm: I was informed by my brother that Tracy Morgan was going to be part of Jimmy Kimmel’s opening Barbara Walters mock-fest, and I’m darn glad I turned in considering that it features a baseball-bat wielding Morgan attacking the set of How I Met Your Mother in order to enact revenge against nominee Neil Patrick Harris.

7:33pm: Okay, so this has definitely more comic value than expected: notification process goes from Ben Stein, to Brad Garrett, to Nich “Buttercup” Lachey, to William Shatner, to Rachael Ray, to Kobe Bryant, to Jon Hamm, to Martin Short, to Nastia Liukin, to THE HOFF, to Regis and Kelly, to Tina Fey. Purple Monkey Dishwasher style. And then she dances. And she owns a Macbook like mine. This makes me happier than it should.

7:42pm: Selma Hayek was on Ugly Betty? Her whole self? I don’t remember…most…parts of that.

7:49pm: Is anyone aware of a Canadian network who is actually doing a pre-show? I realized at a certain point that I didn’t care enough to find one – instead, relocating to the basic cable TV and catching the end of the newly Steven Weber-infused Without a Trace.

7:56pm: We’re getting close – Tom O’Neil over at The Envelope has the order of events, so we’re starting off with Oprah! And then Supporting Comedy Actor (go NPH).

7:58pm: Honestly, how many crime procedurals did storylines with nearly murdered leads? CTV is having a field day sensationalizing Without a Trace and CSI: Miami.

8:00pm: And here’s our opening, complete with the various memorable TV quotes being quoted by various industry types. There’s too many to note: ends on Spader and Shatner.

8:01pm: Man, am I ever glad to see the normal stage again: Oprah, meanwhile, saunters out to welcome us to the show reminding us that nothing else speaks to us like television. That was a really, really bad line about the book buying, though – we get it, you own our souls.

8:04pm: And now it’s our cavalcade of hosts, with Probst going tie-less, and Heidi Klumn wearing a suit. It’s really, really attractive. Meanwhile, Howie talks over everyone, Seacrest is his schmaltzy self, and Heidi Klum kind of looks like she is terrified to be there amongst these people. Mandel breaks out the political jokes, and they keep saying it isn’t a bit, but Bergeron and Klum are just standing there. It’s just strange. This whole five hosts thing seems…unfortunate. “The odds have improved considerable,” though, is sharp.

8:07pm: And Shatner for the save.

8:08pm: Okay, that being said, I will have to say that Heidi Klum is muchbetter in the dress. And now for our first award: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, both nominees later in the show and one of them enormously pregnant, to present Supporting Comedy Actor. This comedy bit is too simple by half, but they love it. Nominees: NPH, Rainn Wilson, Cryer, Piven, Dillon. This is, sadly, Piven’t to lose.

8:10pm: The graphics feature really cheap little picture photoshop work, and it must be said: NPH definitely had the best little clip. And the Emmy goes to…Jeremy Piven? Ugh, I’m getting bored out of my mind with this, Emmy Voters. Please, for the love of all things good, stop giving this man awards.

8:11pm: Jeremy Piven gets mad points for making fun of the opening, though, but still – completely deserved, but utterly pointless and growingly frustrating win. I hate being so frustrated with a win that in a bubble makes so much sense, but the history says otherwise.

8:15pm: I’m hoping that a Jeremy Piven vs. The Hosts feud goes on all evening, but I don’t think Probst or Klum could handle it. Okay, actually, from her appearance on HIMYM Klum could handle it.

8:16pm: “LIVEEEE!…it’s like a nervous tick.” Oh Bergeron, you’re so much better than your show. In other news: they’re going to let Bergeron and Seacrest handle most of this type of stuff, I hope.

8:18pm: Louis-Dreyfus gets a fun little self-gratification role before we get to a chance to see if Poehler gives birth on stage. We have Chenoweth, Poehler, Smart, Taylor, and Vanessa Williams. And the winner is…Jean Smart?! Wow, not a single soul would have predicted this win (If you did, good for you!) Still, though, could this choice be much more irrelevant? To help, I’m going to make this her makeup win for 24. That will help me sleep at night.

8:22pm: I even like Samantha Who, and find Smart quite great in the role, but her beating Vanessa Williams, Chenoweth or even Poehler seems like a total stretch of anything even remotely considered the strongest comic performances of the year. Next up: Supporting Actor Drama, where Ted Danson (at this rate) can’t be beat.

8:25pm: Probst and Klum, who is clearly going to live up to the wardrobe change portion of the program. And let us bathe in the irony of Desperate Housewives, completely ignored by the Academy, gets a bit tribute because ABC is running the show.

8:27pm: And now Dana Delaney gets included in the group of ladies? That time travel must do some wonders to her role in the series, and for good reason. And now, Supporting Actor Drama: we’ve got Danson, Emerson, Ivanek, Shatner, Slattery. And the winner is…IVANEK! YAY!

8:29pm: For those who don’t know, Zeljko Ivanek played a small little character that emerged in a single episode to completely steal the series, and goes into the books as (finally) a totally deserving and talent-driven winner beyond question. I’m now enthused.

8:30pm: And now Gervais is here to note how much of a “major upset” his win last year was, and how that makes him feel bad. And now tips on speech-making: keep it short, don’t be ugly, etc.

8:32pm: Okay, showing even a bit of Sally Field’s acceptance speech is kind of a nice reminder. And now we have Gervais remembering how Carell stole his Emmy moment…”Look at his stupid face,” as Carell stares at him from the front row.

8:34pm: “I sat through Evan Almighty, give me my Emmy” as Gervais starts tickling him as Carell continues to stare. This is a great bit, although it went on a bit long. And now Directing for a Writing/Variety/Music program…lets see if the guy in the box wins. And he does: Horowitz wins his like 15th Emmy.

8:40pm: Like Hugh Laurie last year, Ricky Gervais reminds us how funny hosts can be when they’re actually funny and not just hired to MC reality shows. Take note, next network in the rotation.

8:41pm: “No. Only I can dance!” I love me some old school Simpsons, but HOW COULD THEY CUT BEFORE THE BEST LINE?!

8:42pm: Conan O’Brien talking about The Simpsons, and now we have Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. This is a tough one, but great line about Heigl’s Emmy-worthy material. Smart, writers: and the nominees are Bergen, Griffiths, Oh, Wiest, Wilson. And the winner is…Wiest gets an award in abstentia, and pulls out the total legacy win (not undeserved). That’s our second of the night: this is not a good trend.

8:44pm: Now we have the Writing for a Variety Series! Colbert: the cast on the set of Colbert’s recently taped Christmas Special airing in November (Colbert with a shotgun and boxers). Daily Show: people dancing at various conventions, I presume Republican mostly, but I can’t know. Conan: Small children of various ethnicities as Conan and Angelina sit with all of their adopted children. Letterman: Dr. Phil diagnosing the entire staff. Letterman is miserable psychopathic whackjob. SNL: Miis! All of their respective Wii Sports avatars as Lorne Michaels gets a Photoshop. Lame.

8:47pm: And the winner is The Colbert Report! It begins! Let the reign of Stephen Colbert take over these awards and never, ever end.

8:48pm: “Oh, Hollywood, you’re forgiven…[for now]” – parentheses mine. I’m a finicky sort. Meanwhile, Colbert is cut off way too quickly as we cut to Mandel and Probst and the Accountants…really?

8:49pm: It’s time for Steve Martin, who opens with an odd non sequitor. He’s chatting about the Smothers Brothers, replaced by Hee-Haw. Martin is great at moving between jokes and sincere heartfelt messages – this is a really touching little moment, and played with such grace by Martin. As my brother says: “You’re funny. Like right now. Why won’t you do funny things again the rest of the time?” And now Tommy receives his commemorative Emmy as he gets a standing ovation.

8:54pm: Smothers is getting political which is potentially dangerous, but with FOX not at the helm I think this will be okay. This is his kind of audience.

8:57pm: So, after going blindly 0-3, I’m not going back to my predictions – my optimism had no place during this award show, clearly.

8:59pm: Err, after checking, I was like 0-4. So, not going back to that.

9:00pm: Special note to GAF user Tucah for picking up the association between “Great Writing” and “Heroes” made by “Jennifer Love Hewitt” – I think I was busy tuning them out, but this is quite the mistruth.

9:02pm: Okay, this is really cute: Josh Groban totally hamming it up singing both super serious and ridiculously voiced and wondrous theme songs. Highlights are Animal coming in and then being abducted for Muppet Show/X-Files, his rendition of the South Park theme, and the choir there for the Baywatch theme (Plus his fake running). However, as reported, this is definitely pretaped, mainly because audience laughter might have been a serious issue. And now Fresh Prince: this is inspired. Josh Groban deserves an Emmy of some sort for this. And now Cabaret girls for Suicide is Painless? This is genius.

9:06pm: They’re making it seem very live, but I’m pretty sure it was not live. In other news: I love Alec Baldwin wearing glasses. And now Actress Miniseries/Movie – Dench, Keener, Linney, Rashad, Sarandon. And the Emmy goes to…Laura Linney, for the likely dominating force that is HBO’s John Adams. In other news, she’s now 3 for 3 for Emmys – girl’s doing well for herself.

9:09pm: My latest Twitter about the Emmys: “Josh Groban singing the South Park theme is maybe the best Emmy moment so far. Fantastic. Give him Ricky Gervais’ Emmy.” You can follow all of my (much less clever) Tweets at

9:13pm: Again, people, Tom Bergeron might as well be hosting the entire show, he’s just so damn classy at this. It’s Laugh-In, now, and the cast is in their traditional setting. We have Lily Tomlin and…the other people who were on Laugh-In. I’m such a young whippersnapper. We learn that Letterman isn’t in attendance. Special mention goes out to my pal Sam for bringing me bread so I could keep blogging without dying of starvation. That was a bit of an awkward segment.

9:17pm: And the winner for Variety Series is…The Daily Show with jon Stewart? Damnit. Look, I love the show, but this is like his sixth straight win in the category. Colbert deserved better.

9:19pm: Klum introduces fashions, with Christian in attendance. Lauren Conrad and, from The Bones, David Boreanaz. Poor David, having to present with a nobody. Sorry Lauren. Anyways, they’re getting the Creative Arts intro of Guest Actor/Actress in a Comedy. Which were both a frakking farce. Okay, so I’m ranting a little. Arnett/30 Rock women got ROBBED. Anyways, to present is Kathryn Joosten, minus Tim Conway.

9:21pm: Directing for a Comedy Series…can anyone beat Sonnenfeld? The answer, clearly, is completely and totally not. One of the most visually stunning pilots in recent years, especially on the comedy side of things.

9:23pm: Awkward moment as Barry Sonnenfeld’s daughter, I presume gets cut to as his wife. And now, writing for a comedy series, which will be much closer. And we get a great clip of Flight of the Conchords, a decent Office clip, a weak Carrie Fisher Star Wars gag from an amazing episode, and then a weak 30 Rock clip. Bad clip-making. And the winner is…Tina Fey, for Cooter? Well, she could still for 4-for-4 at this rate, but I feel that Fuller’s script was better for Pushing Daisies. I even felt that Rosemary’s Baby was a better script. What are you going to do? I agree with Tina: Never go with a hippie to a second location is genius. Go Burditt.

9:27pm: There’s a lot of crappy clip-making this episode: after last year’s writing clips were amazing, stunning even, and this year they totally bombed. “Hippie to a second location” not being used is criminal.

9:31pm: Say what you will about Aaron Sorkin, but The West Wing was great – and yes, Sheen not winning an Emmy was ludicrous. This is a nice little political message here, and a worthy one: such a class act. We need more of those…and less CEOs and Chairmans.

9:34pm: Message from the academy: TV is good, TV is great, please surrender your will, as of right now since the strike screwed us over. And now we get Christina Applegate and Christian Slater, who get a strangely large applause. They throw some nepotism into the water, for some reason, and then Applegate declares he will crush his ratings. He’s right, “My Own Worst Enemy” looks lifeless. And now Made for TV Movie: I’m rooting for Recount. And the winner is…Recount! Wow, that’s wondrous news! Who knew I’d call that one?

9:37pm: And in case you were wondering, that was Danny Strong, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls, mentioned as the Emmy-nominated writer of Recount.

9:41pm: And we’re back with Dragnet. Which doesn’t even get so much an introduction as much Probst goofing on it…badly. And now we have Gil Grissom and Laurence “Frog DNA” Fishburne. Supporting Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie. Balaban, Dillane, Leary, Morse, Wilkinson. Emmy goes to, of course, the oldest nominee: Tom Wilkinson, another win for John Adams.

9:44pm: A bomb of a Hannity and Colmes joke leads us into Colbert/Stewart.

9:45pm: Colbert enjoys some delicious prunes while they try to discuss Miniseries, and he thinks American needs a prune. “This dried up old fruit has the experience we need.” Directing Miniseries/Movie – whoever directed John Adams. Interestingly, Balaban is nominated for directing Bernard and Doris, but this is Hooper’s. And the winner is…Jay Roach for Recount? Wow, this bodes well for our friends later in the series. This is a big upset, huge even…not that people care about this award. But they should.

9:47pm: Writing for a Miniseries/Movie/Special, rushed for time (Wonder if there was another joke): a bunch of people. Can Danny Strong pull this one out? The answer is…no. Kirk Ellis wins this one for John Adams, which means that (oddly) it’s only directing of all things that the huge, epic period miniseries loses out on. Fascinating.

9:49pm: You know they’re running late when they cut to graphics mid-sentence. That’s cold.

9:52pm: Egads this is one ridiculously overwrought Grey’s Anatomy promo. And now back to the Emmys: and, of course, M*A*S*H.

9:54pm: Oh and Dempsey from the aforementioned show are here for Supporting Actress Miniseries/Movie – we’ve got Atkins, Dern (so good), Jensen, McDonald, Woodard. And the winner is…Dame Eileen Atkins, so age over youth again. Good for saving time, I guess.

9:55pm: And now here it comes – can TAR go 6 for 6? I’ve got Project Runway breaking the streak. They let Kathy Griffin on the main stage this year? I guess when she’s demanding a standing ovation for Don Rickles, she’s pretty safe. And Rickles provides the comedy. Did he just make a O.J. Simpson joke? Genius.

9:58pm: Rickles is on a roll: he called her Katherine, it was great. And now, let’s see. We’ve got TAR. We’ve got American Idol. We’ve got Dancing. We’ve got Runway. We’ve got Chef. And the winner is…The Amazing Race! Man, this is the streak that will never, ever, ever end. And I’ll admit it: I can’t feel bad. The show is just too damn good at what it does. I can’t imagine what would have ever happened if, during one of its down years ratings wise, CBS would have pulled the plug. I know: they would have still been Emmy-less tonight.

10:02pm: Miniseries, a no-brainer for John Adams, is my break. Food.

10:07pm: Thanks for the long commercial, everyone! Heh – Tom Bergeron dropping Heidi Klum on the ground is great. Too bad NPH and Chenoweth don’t get a bit, as they’re both, uh, really funny, and did a great job on the nominations announcement. Now individual performance: Colbert, Fey, Letterman, Rickles, Stewart. And the Emmy goes to…Don Rickles. Man, I can’t wait until Colbert has Rickles on his show.

10:12pm: Kate Walsh and Wayne Brady to introduce Turmann and Cynthia Nixon to introduce Writing/Directing Drama. These should be the start of the Mad Men parade. Turmann getting to present to David Simon would make my life, but first up: Directing. This belongs to…the guy who directed House’s Head? Ruh-roh, Emmys, you’re losing me here. This is random. WAY random.

10:15pm: Writing now: BSG, Damages, Mad Men 1, Mad Men 2, The Wire. C’mon, The Wire. And, it goes where we expect it to: Matthew Weiner takes his third Emmy, and his second in a row, for writing “Smokes Gets In Your Eyes,” the show’s pilot. Which is great, don’t get me wrong, but for the writing to win without the direction is a tough pill to swallow.

10:24pm: Paul Giamatti, makes a nice President joke as he accepts his clearly obvious victory for Laura Linney, and then thanks his fake wife and not his real wife. And now Candice Bergen out to, perhaps, right a wrong.

10:25pm: Lead Actor in a Comedy Series – Baldwin. Carell. Pace. Shalhoub. Sheen. And the winner is: Alec Frakking Baldwin. Finally – a wrong is, indeed, righted. The cast is excited. Meanwhile, Steve Carell lives to fight another day. He thanks Tina Fey, the Elaine May of her generation. Very heartfelt.

10:27pm: Now, we have Vanessa Williams and America Ferrera, so unprepared that her mic isn’t even on. Lead Actress Drama: Close. Field. Hargitay. Hunter. Sedgwick. And the winner is…Glenn Close. No shocker there. Only her second win in eleven nominations…man, I enjoy Damages’ theme song in these short bursts.

10:29pm: And because I needed a break, and because we needed to remember these great people: In Memoriam, oddly set to a piano version of “Whiter Shade of Pale.” Nice end with Carlin’s little joke about death, though.

10:36pm: This is going to be exciting – Kiefer Sutherland presenting Best Drama Actor. This is the big test: will James Spader’s streak end, or like The Amazing Race is he simply unstoppable? And the winner is…Bryan Cranston? For Breaking Bad! Wow, this is another huge shocker, and definitely a legacy win for never giving him one for Malcolm in the Middle. I really need to finish Breaking Bad at some point. AMC’s gotta be a bit upset about Hamm losing, but they win another one regardless. Fascinating.

10:40pm: Now, after that note, Craig Ferguson and Brooke Shields for Lead Actress Comedy. Applegate. Ferrera. Fey. Louis-Dreyfus. Parker. And the winner is…Tina Fey! That’s number two for the evening, and definitely deserved: she’s amazing on the show, and the argument for her as the Mary Tyler Moore of the generation is making more and more sense. A nice little speech, nicely different from her one before.

10:43pm: Time for Reality-Competition Host. This is a tough category to call…but this is a fun gag. But not worth all of the earlier rushing. Lame. And the winner, eventually, is…they’re seriously going to commercial mid-award? Oh, humour.

10:46pm: And by humour, I mean “Failed attempt of humour.” That was sadly unclear.

10:49pm: “Haven’t they been sufficient everybody?” Man, that was funny. And the award goes to…Jeff Probst! Wow, I didn’t see that coming, but it’s well-deserved: after the man clearly got to a point where Survivor stopped being cared about, it’s good that he gets an Emmy for being very, very strong in the role that only he could do. Well played, Probst.

10:51pm: Now we get a Mary Tyler Moore clip, as MTM (Who is now moonlighting on Lipstick Jungle) emerges to present the award for…or not, since she has no envelope. Instead, Betty White, gets her own entrance: well played, Betty White. Who was amazing as a guest on Ugly Betty last year. And gets a standing ovation. They still lack an envelope. But, nonetheless, time for Best Comedy Series. Can Fey pick up the triumvirate? Curb, Entourage, The Office and Two and a Half Men stand in 30 Rock’s way.

10:53pm: And the winner is…30 Rock! Repeat! And, more importantly, Tina Fey picks up her third Emmy of the night. Writing, producing, acting…she’s officially the Queen of television.

10:55pm: Man, October 30th? That’s a long way away. In the meantime, after Fey’s deserved plug for the show, Tom Selleck is out for the final award of the evening for Best Drama Series. Mad Men has won almost no precursors. Lost has none. Dexter’s screwed. What can happen? And the winner is…Mad Men! Yes! Okay, say what you will about Lost’s fourth season, or about House’s fourth season, or Dexter’s second season, or Damages’ strong pilot. I love, to death, this show, and it’s totally deserved.

10:57pm: And Probst, after winning, gets to close the show. And he says good night. And we run on time. And that’s the end of the night: good night, all!


Filed under Emmy Awards

3 responses to “Cultural Learnings’ 2008 60th Primetime Emmys LiveBlog

  1. Pingback: “Truth” and Emmy: The 2008 60th Primetime Emmy Awards in Review « Cultural Learnings

  2. Love the blog. But did Tina Fey really have to plug her show in her acceptance speech?

  3. While I agree, Chad, that it may seem tacky, she had the biggest audience the show could ever receive: the show is great, but it needs viewers to survive and Emmys don’t pay the bills no matter how many the show wins.

    Even with low ratings, the Emmys drew 12 Million viewers – her show will never draw those numbers, so if people learn where to find her show her plug (albeit a bit tacky) was worth it.

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