Backstage at the Emmys
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Tina Fey, whose NBC series "30 Rock" won for comedy, was optimistic that the win could boost viewership. "I certainly hope that it will. I don't think it will hurt us. I had friends who worked on 'Arrested Development,' so I know how hard it can be," she said of the former comedy series winner that failed to gain traction with viewers. But she's also hoping that a range of upcoming high-profile guest stars -- such as Jerry Seinfeld and Edie Falco -- will give the show a boost. "(The win) legitimizes us a little. I myself will celebrate by overeating." Fey also expressed surprise that Alec Baldwin didn't win as lead actor in a comedy, though she admitted it was a "tough category."
Amid strike rumors and other Hollywood controversies, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences chairman and CEO Dick Askin said that the Emmys are meant for one primary purpose: entertainment. "I think it's the tradition of the Emmys to have some fun with television," he said. And as for the raucous "Family Guy" animated opening number, he said: "I don't think there's anything offensive about it. It's very typical of what the Emmys should be on Fox."
David Chase, creator of drama series winner "The Sopranos," said that he doesn't believe that the HBO show had as much impact on TV as most people might give it credit for. "I don't really believe it has influenced television that much. I don't see it. I don't think we've had much of an impact." However, he did acknowledge that it was unlike most of what is or what has aired on TV. "There's something tonally different about it," he said. He also noted that when the pilot originally was written for Fox, it was much different than the series that ended up on premium cable. "In that pilot, nobody got killed. There was no murder in it."
Sally Field was grilled backstage about the political nature of her remarks onstage, when she said: "If the mothers ruled the world, there would be no goddamn wars in the first place." She had just been named top actress in a drama for ABC's "Brothers & Sisters." First, she said that the award belongs to "all the mothers of the world ... especially the mothers who stand with an open heart and wait, wait for their children to come home from danger, from harm's way and from war." Backstage, she made no apologies for being the only winner to make a politically themed remark, saying that was a theme that resonated with her character over the past season. "I wanted to acknowledge them and what they do," she said. Asked how she felt about the possibility of getting attention over her remarks, Field said: "Oh well. I've been there before ... I don't care. ... I very seriously think that if the mothers ruled the world, we wouldn't be sending (soldiers) off to be slaughtered." She had one regret: "I shouldn't have said 'God' in front of 'damn.' ... I have no point to get across, no agenda, it's just something I wanted to say. I wanted to pay homage to mothers, period." She added that "if they bleep it out, oh well, I'll just say it somewhere else."
James Spader, winner for lead actor in a drama series for his role on ABC's "Boston Legal," said his Emmy experience Sunday was a little more nerve-racking than last year's. "Because the show was nominated for the first time tonight, literally all of my bosses were sitting behind me, and so were the other nominees, so it was disconcerting," he said. "I had thought that unless they invented a category of 'What the Hell Is This?' I didn't know what category we'd be nominated in."
Just because she won an Emmy for actress in a comedy doesn't mean that "Ugly Betty's" America Ferrera has no complaints. "It's a little bit more of a free ride for men than it is for women," she said when asked whether television tends to be sexist. "I'm in high heels and all the men get to wear flat shoes." The first-time winner and nominee is glad to be part of a television show that she said is making a difference. "I hope ('Betty') begins to go deeper and is about positive image that is beyond what you see."
"Lost's" Terry O'Quinn, who won the Emmy for best supporting actor in a drama series, said he was thinking more about the call of nature than the call of the Emmy during the announcement of his win. But the twice-nominated O'Quinn said the real honor is the nomination, and winning is just frosting on the cake. "I'm gratified to be invited to the party," he said. As for any John Locke rumors, fans will have to tune in to the upcoming season for the answers. "I think the writers know what's going to happen," he said. "I certainly don't."
"I feel wobbly," supporting actress in a comedy series winner Jaime Pressly said. "It's been 13 years since I've been in the business, and it's so overwhelming to finally be recognized." The "My Name Is Earl" co-star also noted that she's had the same reps -- manager Lena Roklin and attorney Dave Feldman -- for 13 years. "I'm Southern, and I believe in loyalty and hard work." As for her character, Pressly said she took her inspiration for Joy from a handful of people she grew up with. But, she added with a smile, "anybody can say 'dummy' and 'oh snap,' but not anybody can say it like Joy."
Two Emmys are better than one. But Jeremy Piven of HBO's "Entourage" said his second win for supporting actor in a comedy series (and third nomination) was the most nerve-racking yet. "For whatever reason, it was really overwhelming to me," he said. Piven, who said he has been playing the "abrasive best friend" for most of his career, said he struggled to find his Hollywood niche. But the actor said he is pleased that his caustic character, Ari Gold, has generated a following. "I never thought I would be the people's favorite in anything," he said.
"I could have been a cowboy," said Robert Duvall, who was named best actor in a miniseries or movie for "Broken Trail," the winner for best mini, which he also produced. He has been a fan of the Western well before 1952's "High Noon," he noted, naming Gary Cooper and Lloyd Bridges as early heroes. "I could have been a cowboy," he said.
The other versions of "Ugly Betty" from around the world star supermodels in dorky glasses, but "Betty's" Richard Shepard, a first-time Emmy winner for director of a comedy series, said he hasn't watched them. He and producer Salma Hayek wanted a fresh and more realistic take on the popular comedy series, he said. "We have this unbelievable actress (America Ferrera) who actually looks like a human being," he said. "It has to be her or there is no show, because she's real. And because she's real, all the silliness around her sort of makes sense."
Jon Stewart kept reporters laughing backstage after the variety, music or comedy series win for Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart." Asked his thoughts on the latest O.J. Simpson arrest, Stewart said he would ask the former football star previously acquitted of murder: "Is this how it goes down, Capone? You kill two people and they get you for kicking a door down in Vegas?" Simpson was arrested Sunday by Las Vegas police, who said he was part of an armed group that burst into a hotel room and took sports memorabilia.
No, he's not planning to run in 2008. Former Vice President Al Gore, who won an Emmy for interactive television services for his Current TV network, has other plans in the works, including the Oct. 15 launch of Current.com with CurrentTV partner Joel Hyatt. "It sounds corny to say we trust in the people," Gore said. "But that is what we have been aiming toward." Gore took the time to pat the academy on the back for fostering an environmentally friendly awards ceremony this year. "The Emmys have gone green," he said. "And I want to give them credit for that. I think they're one step ahead of the compact fluorescent," an energy-saving alternative to incandescent lighting.
Conan O'Brien, whose "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" won for outstanding writing for a variety, music or comedy series, is worried that his Emmy might look lonely. "I had a giant Emmy shelf built several years ago, capable of holding 500 Emmys, and they didn't come," he said. The late-night host said that he'll stay occupied competing with other comics to write the best jokes about today's newsmakers before his show tonight. "I'm getting my news from Mary Hart," he said. "Which is a beautiful way to get your news, but disturbing at the same time. I haven't read a newspaper in 11 years." Hart hosts "Entertainment Tonight."
Thirty years after becoming a TV classic, "Roots" got a well-deserved tribute at this year's ceremony. Many in the cast of the ABC miniseries were on hand for the honor, and it seems they're still keeping busy. Ben Vereen just filmed a guest appearance on "Grey's Anatomy"; John Amos is a regular on "Men in Trees"; Louis Gossett Jr. is headed to the theater world for a role in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." But Cicely Tyson confessed that she is unemployed and not the least bit shy about asking around for work. She joked about placing an ad in the newspaper to find her next opportunity, as Bette Davis once did in the twilight of her career. "Hopefully next year, you will see so much of me that you will be sorry you asked," Tyson quipped.
No one was happier than executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer to see his "The Amazing Race" continue its clean sweep of the reality competition category since its inception. But he had some words of consolation for "American Idol," which has been an also-ran to "Race" in the Emmys for the past several years. "They beat us in viewers every week, so I don't feel bad for them," he said. "They have the No. 1 show on television, so God bless them." now a stand-alone.
"Tony Bennett: An American Classic" hit a high note with three Emmy awards. The NBC special was named variety, music or comedy special, while Bennett himself took home the statue for individual performance in a variety, music or comedy special and Rob Marshall won for direction. Backstage, Bennett praised Marshall as "the best director I ever met." "He lifts everybody up and makes everybody feel comfortable and relaxed, and then the cameras start rolling," he said. But Marshall turned right around and gave all the praise to Bennett. "Tony is authentic through and through," he said. "What you see onstage -- his heart, his beautiful masterful sound, his expression. He never does the same thing twice. ... He inspired all of us on-set."
Compiled by Kimberly Nordyke, Gretta Parkinson and Andy Wallenstein.