BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEAD ACTOR AND ACTRESS IN AN EXTENDED BIT OF PODIUM SHTICK
On paper, Veep‘s Julia Louis-Dreyfus telling Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston that he reminded her of an actor who played her dentist love interest back in her Seinfeld days — and Cranston unsuccessfully trying to convince her he’d been her costar in said kissing scene — wasn’t particular inventive. But the eventual 2014 champs in their categories delivered their lines so flawlessly that it resulted in multiple guffaws. Even better? Cranston “ambushing” Louis-Dreyfus for a long and passionate kiss when she went to accept her trophy. “Yeah,” the actress said all woozily, “he was on Seinfeld.”
MOST PAINFUL COMMITMENT TO AN EXTENDED BIT OF PODIUM SHTICK
Maybe presenter Stephen Colbert’s monologue opposite his silent, imaginary friend played better in dress rehearsals? During the actual telecast, however, it proved to be a rare misstep for the beloved late-night funnyman.
BEST AUDITION REEL FOR 2015 EMMY HOST
The night’s funniest segment found host Seth Meyers tailing Billy on the Street star Billy Eichner as he peppered unsuspecting New Yorkers with questions about Emmys (and Emmy snubs). Railing against the Academy’s failure to nominate Mindy Kaling — despite the actress having hosted last month’s nominations announcement at 5am PT — Eichner screamed hilariously to one unimpressed passerby, “YOU KNOW WHO WAS SLEEPING SOUNDLY [THEN]? PERENNIAL NOMINEE JULIE BOWEN!”
BEST AUDITION FOR A FUTURE SITCOM-WRITING GIG
Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell scrapped his acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy series in favor of a pretty hilarious one that he said was handed to him by the teenage members of his show’s cast. Among the choicest bits, the observation that Burrell’s real-life children were “definitely cute — just not ‘I can support my whole family cute.'” With zingers like that, Nolan Gould, Sarah Hyland, Rico Rodriguez and Ariel Winter need not worry about a second-act in Hollywood.
WORST USE OF CHYRONS TO INSULT KEY EMMY PARTICIPANTS
All night long, Emmy producers showed blatant disrespect to presenters, nominees and even winners by reminding viewers that bigger, bolder-faced names were in the wings. One side-eye-inducing example? The “In Memoriam coming up in 16 minutes” message that popped up as Sarah Silverman thanked her “Jews at CAA” while accepting the Best Writing for a Variety Special trophy.
MOST MOVING ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
In picking up a Best TV Movie win for The Normal Heart, Ryan Murphy sweetly called on young viewers “to become Larry Kramers, to find a cause you believe in that you will fight for, that you will die for.” After name-dropping amfAR and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Murphy then went on to dedicate his trophy to “the hundreds of thousands of artists who have passed from HIV/AIDS since 1981 — your memory and your passion burns on in us.”
BEST USE OF THE PODIUM TO THROW SUBTLE SHADE
Julianna Margulies — a thoroughly deserving Lead Actress in a Drama winner for the thoroughly snubbed The Good Wife — gave major credit to her show’s EPs Robert and Michelle King and their writing staff. And after that, she marveled at their ability to produce “22 episodes a year” — an obvious reminder to Emmy voters that, despite a massive shift toward favoring cable programs, there are many deserving and unrecognized series (grappling with significantly longer seasons) still residing on the networks, too.
BEST ACCIDENTAL THROWING OF SUBTLE SHADE
On a night where producers seemed to go out of their way to tout Big Name Movie Actors, the decision to single out a clip of Julia Roberts in The Normal Heart — while failing to do the same for any of her fellow Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie nominees — did not go unnoticed by the other ladies in the race. Angela Bassett, for one, gave her what looked like her seethingest Marie Laveau grin, while Kathy Bates, Frances Conroy and Ellen Burstyn appeared anything but thrilled.
BEST SETH MEYERS SEGUE
As presenters Debra Messing and Jim Parsons strutted onto the stage, Meyers resorted to an utterly random (and all-too perfect) “shades on” bit from CSI: Miami, then added, “or as they’re known by David Caruso, ‘a couple of Messing-Parsons.'” Cue that trademark “Who” scream: Yowwwwwwwwww!!!
Presenter Jimmy Kimmel squeezed the comedic lemon, so to speak, bringing acidity to what was mostly a feel-good telecast. Not only did he do an extended riff on Ricky Gervais having a face not for movies or TV, but instead for Netflix (!), he then gleefully shredded Matthew McConaughey for threatening to take home an Academy Award and Emmy in the same year. “No offense, but how many of those speeches of yours are we supposed to sit through?” Kimmel joked. “All right, all right, all right already! Should we give you the BET award for best male hip-hop artist, too, while we’re at it?”
WORST PRONUNCIATION OF AN EMMY WINNER’S NAME
Maybe Gwen Stefani got so psyched out by the silent final ‘T’ in The Colbert Report that she botched the surname of the show’s titular star? I know, we’re reaching here, but how else to explain her wince-inducing pronunciation of “Cole-bort”? In the words of the No Doubt singer herself, “That s–t was bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S!”
MOST ACCURATELY DISMISSIVE DESCRIPTION OF TWO INCREDIBLE TV PERFORMERS
“Two attractive people who spend a lot of their time looking upset on television,” was Meyers’ introduction of Scandal‘s transcendent Kerry Washington and Ray Donovan‘s terrific Liev Schreiber. Not that there’s anything wrong with it!
MOST LIKELY TO RESULT IN A STRONGLY WORDED EMAIL TO THE FCC
The runup to Best Direction in a Comedy Series featured various sitcom cast members sharing the best advice they’d ever gotten on set. Cue Louie‘s babyfaced teen Hadley Delany sharing this anecdote: “In the episode where my character gets caught smoking pot, [Louis C.K.] taught me how to hold a joint.” How much do you want to bet that somewhere at Parents Television Council HQ, at least 25 letters of complaint are being banged out on a single laptop.
Modern Family Gail Mancuso, who took home Outstanding Direction for a Comedy Series, hilariously insisted she needed to lock eyes with the dashing Matthew McConaughey in order to avoid tearing up during her speech. “If the camera man could get out of my way a little bit, that’d be great. I’m just trying to direct this,” she barked, before reassuring the True Detective star, “Right there, baby, right there. Thank you for staying with me.” Could a 2015 Guest Actress in a Comedy nod be the next step in this Mancuso’s career?
MOST THOUGHTLESS “IN MEMORIAM” OMISSION
Considering he rose to fame on one of the most popular reality competitions in TV history — and passed away unexpectedly earlier this month at the age of 35 — the failure to make even a brief mention of American Idol Season 7 finalist Michael Johns stung particularly hard. He may have been forgotten by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (as erstwhile Sing-Off judge Sara Bareilles performed “Smile”), but that’s not the case here at TVLine.
MOST DELICIOUS NASTINESS
Who better to bring the bitchery than Ricky Gervais? After losing to Jim Parsons for Lead Actor in a Comedy series, the British comic huffed that “I’ve come a long way — he’s possibly local,” then later read his discarded faux acceptance speech sneering at “Joey from Friends” (aka Matt LeBlanc) and “Louis from Louie spelled slightly differently.”
WORST USE OF SEXY
Was there really not a single person at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences who questioned the decision to have its president offer remarks on “always giving viewers something compelling to watch” as curvaceous funnylady Sofia Vergara was placed atop a rotating platform at center stage?
BEST INTERRUPTION OF AN EMMY PRESENTER
After a super fun segment that found Weird Al Yankovic adding lyrics to instrumental TV themes — and Andy Samberg ridiculously channeling Game of Thrones King Joffrey — actress Lena Headey (who plays Joffrey’s mother Cersei) found herself as the straight-man to a still-in-character Samberg. “Mother, I think I’ve been poisoned!” whined the idiotic boy-king. “Not now, Joffrey,” Headey huffed, before getting back to her work at the podium.
BEST JOKE FROM THE OPENING MONOLOGUE
Seth Meyers eschewed the usual pre-taped shtick and song-and-dance routines for a goofy, decidedly un-acidic string of punch lines. Best of the bunch (and no offense to Orange Is the New Black and Shameless)? “We had comedies that made you laugh, and comedies that made you cry — because they were dramas submitted as comedies.”
THE ONLY RED CARPET MOMENT YOU NEED TO RE-LIVE
Eventual winner Sarah Silverman, clearly having too much fun with E!’s stilted Giuliana Rancic, made a huge show of adjusting her breasts on camera. “They’re the lowest they’ve ever been and the highest they’re ever gonna be,” Silverman exclaimed, before attributing the quote to the late poet Maya Angelou, and leaving Rancic a bit flummoxed in the process.