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Surprise Presenter Rupert Murdoch Honors Simon Cowell With International Emmy Award

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Simon Cowell and Rupert Murdoch
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images
Simon Cowell, left, and Rupert Murdoch

Jimmy Fallon and Alec Baldwin laud Lorne Michaels at Monday night's ceremony in New York.

NEW YORK -- News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch was the surprise presenter here Monday night at the 38th International Emmy Awards, honoring Simon Cowell with the International Emmy Founders Award for his contributions to TV and entertainment around the world.

The award was previously announced, but the presenter remained a mystery until Murdoch walked onstage and said: "Good evening, everyone. I'm Rupert Murdoch."

He told the crowded ballroom at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan that Cowell has "helped make Fox Broadcasting no. 1 season after season" over the past decade -- thanks to his role on American Idol -- and added: "I'm confident his launch of X Factor in the U.S. next year will build on that success for years to come."

"No one has done more in the past decade to build the fortunes of Fox Broadcasting," Murdoch said, calling Cowell a "phenomenal media impresario" responsible for three of the highest-rated TV shows in the U.S. and U.K.

Murdoch also lauded Cowell for shaping pop culture and making "enormous cultural contributions" over the past decade and called him "a fellow entrepreneur whom I respect and admire."

While he can be "ruthlessly" direct, Cowell is also "amazingly talented and charismatic," Murdoch said.

Calling him "Mr. Murdoch," Cowell quipped that it was a great way to feel "no pressure" with "my boss here." He also joked: "Whoever said  fame, money, success will destroy you, was completely wrong. Bring it on!" He added: "My life was boring before I went on TV."

After their speeches, the two power players posed for photographers. When one asked who was the big winner, the two men pointed at each other.

Asked by The Hollywood Reporter if he has set judges for the U.S. X Factor yet, Cowell said none besides himself.

The event at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan also honored Saturday Night Live founder Lorne Michaels, who was handed the International Emmy Directorate Award by Jimmy Fallon and Alec Baldwin.

Michaels quipped that the NBC table was "half full -- or as we say at NBC: half empty."

He also lauded his bosses over the years as never having interfered with politics at the show, which is in its 36th season. He said he'd like another one of these awards if he gets to 50.

The U.K. earned five awards at the International Emmys, while Israel, Romania, Portugal, South Korea and Argentina each won one honor.

As every year at the event with attendees from around the globe, there was big applause and excited cheering from representatives of nominated series and countries, particularly from Brazil and Portugal, which took home its first-ever International Emmy for telenovela My Love.

The actor awards went to Bob Hoskins for The Street, the ITV Studios production for the BBC that was also honored as best drama, and Helena Bonham Carter as Enid Blyton in Enid. Neither of the two recipients was present.

Host Jason Priestley was joined by other big industry names as presenters, including Seth Meyers, Eli Wallach, Matthew Modine, Elisabeth Moss, Tony Goldwyn, Bill Moyers, Will Estes and Melissa Joan Hart.

Priestley in his opening remarks joked about current events, such as the recent recession ("Some waiters have been forced to take acting jobs.") and the full-body scans and pat-downs that foreigners would get before moving into the green room for deportation. He also took issue with Arizona's immigration policies and suggested that after the recent mid-term elections, more of the country may soon look like Arizona.

Fallon said the world would miss the Blues Brothers, Caddyshack and many other of Michaels' contributions to the comedy and broader entertainment scene. Basically, the world would be "an empty room somewhere with tumbleweed blowing through" and everyone would be sitting around and "wondering how Sarah Palin got to be president," he quipped.

A complete list of winners can be found on the next page.