Emmys: 'Veep' Boss' $1,000 Bet and More Inside References Explained
The Hollywood Reporter breaks down the shout-outs and jokes that may have left viewers scratching their heads.
Why does Veep boss David Mandel owe Silicon Valley executive producer Alec Berg $1,000? Does the Emmy statuette really hold an atom of boron? What's the connection between Andre Braugher and Sterling K. Brown? Why did Dave Chappelle shout out D.C. public schools? What's South Asian Youth Action? And who is Hiro Murai?
These are just some of the questions that Emmy viewers, especially ones who don't work in or closely follow the entertainment industry, may have had as host Stephen Colbert, presenters and winners made references to lesser-known facts and public figures.
Read on to find out the stories behind six esoteric references from Sunday night's Emmys.
"Alec Berg, I owe you $1,000."
Veep boss David Mandel let this aside slip when he was accepting the show's Emmy for best comedy series Monday night. Mandel addressed the Silicon Valley executive producer as he listed the other comedy series nominees, which he said inspire the team at Veep. So why is Mandel indebted to his friend and fellow TV writer? It seems the two have a bet that has gone on since last year as to which show will win the best comedy series Emmy. Mandel, ever humble, never thinks Veep will win, he says, so much so that he picked every other show to win last year, paying Berg $1,000 at the HBO party after Veep emerged triumphant at the 2016 Emmys. This year, Mandel thought Atlanta would win, but Berg bet on Veep.
"I called it out really in the spur of the moment, more so acknowledging our long-term partnership in the speech," Mandel told THR, revealing he hasn't yet paid Berg for this year's wager. "I actually had the cash ready to pay him but we missed each other. We have a date to settle up. Believe me he wants his money!"
"A lightning-winged lady holding an atom of boron."
Host Stephen Colbert described the Emmy statuette, "the real star" of Sunday night's show, thusly, adding after the audience seemed lost by his boron mention, "It's got five electrons, look it up." The description of the statuette segued into Colbert's interview with the award, with RuPaul playing the trophy. So is the Emmy statuette a winged woman holding an atom of boron? Maybe. According to the TV Academy, the Emmy statuette, as chosen by the academy in 1948, was designed by Louis McManus using his wife as a model. The statuette shows a winged woman holding an atom, an image designed to represent the arts (the wings) and science (the atom) of television. The third Academy president, Harry Lubcke, selected the name "Immy," a term for an early image orthicon camera, which was later modified to "Emmy" to accompany the female symbol. As for whether that atom is of boron, the TV academy's website doesn't specify. But boron, the fifth element in the periodic table, does indeed have five electrons, as well as five protons.
South Asian Youth Action
The Night Of star Riz Ahmed referenced South Asian Youth Action in his acceptance speech for best actor in a limited series, singling out the Queens-based youth development organization as one of the groups that helped him prepare for his role as Naz, a Pakistani-American college student, whose family lives in Queens, accused of murder. SAYA provides academic support, leadership development and enrichment programming for South Asian youth in New York City.
Donald Glover name-checked Mirai when he accepted his Emmy for outstanding directing in a comedy series. Mirai is a longtime collaborator of Glover's, also serving as a director and producer on Atlanta. Mirai, who directed seven of the 10 episodes in Atlanta's first season, previously collaborated with Glover on videos released under Glover's Childish Gambino alter ego.
"Mr. Braugher, whether it is at Stanford University or on this Emmy stage, it is my supreme honor to follow in your footsteps.”
Sterling K. Brown referenced a number of past drama actor winners, including Bryan Cranston and Jon Hamm, calling out both by their characters' names, as he accepted his Emmy for his role on This Is Us on Sunday night. But he seemed particularly honored to follow in Andre Braugher's footsteps. Braugher was the last black performer before Brown to win the best drama actor Emmy, which he received in 1998 for his role as Frank Pembleton in Homicide: Life on the Street. "Because of the category and because it's been 19 years, it feels big," Brown said backstage, alluding to Braugher's win. "I'm bugging out because I never thought this was a possibility. And to be standing here, 19 years after him, I want to represent."
Brown revealed that he and Braugher also share an alma mater: Stanford. Braugher graduated in 1984, and Brown graduated in 1998.
"Shout out to DC public schools"
Dave Chappelle gave educational institutions in the nation's capital their first of two bits of recognition on Sunday night. Presenting with fellow guest actor Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy, Chappelle revealed he had skipped rehearsal so he was going to need to simply read the teleprompter. "Please forgive me. Shout-out to D.C. public schools," Chappelle said before reading the nominees. Chappelle is a 1991 graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in D.C., and whoever manages the Twitter account for the school district didn't miss a beat, waving at Chappelle and expressing surprise when later winner John Oliver urged people to get "D.C. public schools" trending on Twitter, which they did. The school system also urged their new fans to learn more about their facilities.
Jackie Strause contributed to this report.