Tube Talk : Emmys ‘go green,’ fail to break new ground

Funny how the 59th Annual Primetime Emmys could shake things up, yet still be predictable.

This year, the Emmys went green. While they stuck with the traditional red carpet, it was made of recycled materials. The minimal set reduced waste, and nearly everything that could be done to further reduce waste and energy consumption was done, short of celebrities carpooling or arriving on foot.

They added a new award—Creative Achievement in Interactive TV—to acknowledge the new role the Internet is having on television, from streaming entire episodes online, to using the Internet to generate television content, and everything in between.

If you missed it, former Vice President Al Gore picked up an Emmy in that category on behalf of Current TV, the “TV network made by the people who watch it.” Gore’s Emmy should look nice alongside his Oscar.

Another first was staging the show “in the round,” a risk that apparently didn’t pay off, considering some awkward entrances and exits, plus comments from presenters and winners alike. But at least they tried something new.

The Academy’s efforts to go green and add a category for Interactive TV show they’re trying to adapt to the new millennium, but maybe they could have saved more energy by cutting back on the monologues, production numbers, and unfunny repartee between presenters. (The “debate” between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert was an entertaining exception.)

The animated opening number starring The Family Guy’s Stewie and Brian was funny, but seemed to go on a painfully long time. While the serviceable Ryan Seacrest won’t go down in Emmy lore as a great host, at least his monologue was short. So why did Ray Romano—whose series has been off the air for two years—need to come out and do a second monologue before getting around to presenting the first award?

Long-running series go off the air each year without musical tributes, so why did The Sopranos merit a five-minute medley by The Jersey Boys? Exactly how much more time was eaten up parading the entire cast of The Sopranos onstage just for applause, anyway?

The Academy didn’t break any new ground by giving James Spader another Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama for playing Alan Shore on Boston Legal. Drama? That’s debatable. I have nothing against Spader—he strikes me as a very smart, polite, and wickedly funny man. But even he seemed shocked to win again, and wondered out loud who votes for the Emmys.

That said, there were some high points. I was thrilled to see Terry O’Quinn, one of my favorite actors for more than a decade, finally win an Emmy for playing Locke on Lost. I loved that America Ferrera won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy for Ugly Betty. But my biggest and happiest surprise was when the low-rated, but brilliantly funny, 30 Rock won Outstanding Comedy Series. Not that winning the same award did anything to save my beloved Arrested Development.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications including American Bungalow, Television Week, and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to

from the Sept. 19 – 25, 2007, issue

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