Midway through the Emmy telecast I began to wonder, after it was suggested by several other TV critics and commentators, if these awards were being presented in a bizarro world that was not our own.
I’m not sure whether we were stuck in the “sideways” world from “Lost” or the parallel universe from “Fringe,” but the first hour of the Emmy telecast seemed so unpredictable that it couldn’t possibly be happening in our universe — one in which the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences voters generally seem not to actually watch television.
So imagine my delighted surprise when “Top Chef” broke “The Amazing Race’s” chokehold on the reality show category. Imagine my uncontrollable glee when Jon Cryer lost Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy to Eric Stonestreet. Imagine my joyful tears as I watched Jack Bender accept the award for Drama Direction for his stunning, evocative work in the “Lost” finale.
Oh, wait. That last one didn’t really happen.
Maybe this is our universe, after all.
I will never understand the love for Kyra Sedgwick, who won Outstanding Actress in a Drama for her headlining turn in “The Closer.” Nor will I understand how “Mad Men” won Best Drama and the writing award for Drama, despite its cast members being winless for their individual performances. Oh, and Archie Panjabi won Supporting Actress in a Drama. I like Kalinda in “The Good Wife”, but — huh?
However, the telecast’s flabby and glacially-paced interlude of Miniseries or movie categories was far more odd than any individual victory or defeat.
Packing the opening with excitement and a few big categories before moving on to the less well-known — and, for casual viewers, the most boring — categories is not a new strategy; most awards shows employ it.
But either the producers of the Emmys misjudged how much time they could allot to these categories or they got cocky after the first half went off without a hitch, because they barely left any time for the winners of the Best Drama Series and Best Comedy Series awards to give their speeches. Perhaps they aren’t fans of Matthew Weiner’s particular brand of prickly narcissism (they cut his first acceptance speech off earlier in the telecast), but I hardly think that’s their excuse.
No, the real reason for this gaffe was the producers’ deference to Al Pacino, who was allowed to ramble for what seemed like an hour in his acceptance speech for Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or Made for TV Movie without once being threatened with a low warning note of music, as some other winners had been.
It seems that movie star power was once again proven to be greater in the eyes of Hollywood executives than television star power.
It’s a vicious, ironic statement to be made in the midst of a kudofest for the brightest stars of television, and I’m sure it wasn’t lost on Matthew Weiner.
I may not like him, but I do respect his talent, and the fact that he was awkwardly and obviously cut off with a swell of music — while Al Pacino prattled on — stings. Just because he’s a star doesn’t mean the Emmys were his night to shine. That honor should go to the people who devote their lives and careers to a medium that doesn’t get enough respect for the challenges its writers, actors, producers and crew members face to create a successful, long-running and hopefully award-winning TV series.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen at the Emmys this year — at least, not in our reality. Over there, though, one never knows.
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