How the Emmys Opened Without a Host

Homer Simpson, Anthony Anderson and Bryan Cranston kicked off the Fox awards ceremony with a bang.

The 2019 Emmys were supposed to be hostless, but casual viewers could be forgiven for thinking the Fox show decided to go with an animated emcee.

The ceremony began by introducing Homer Simpson as the host of the show, and the animated figure took the stage and delivered a few lines about being grateful for the opportunity before an animated piano fell from the ceiling and crushed him, with Simpson uttering his trademark "D'oh!"

Seeing this from the audience, Anthony Anderson took it upon himself to "save the Emmys," racing onstage and then backstage. There he demanded a cup of coffee before someone handed him a Starbucks cup and he made light of the gaffe seen around the world, asking, "What is this? This is not Game of Thrones! No Starbucks cups on television. No more."

Anderson fumbled around for a bit, and had his mother pretend to steal a couple of Emmys for him, before he decreed that the show would go without a host and found an Emmy winner who could take the stage to talk about the power of TV: Bryan Cranston. Cranston was then pushed out onstage to applause from the well-heeled audience, before talking about watching the 1969 moon landing on TV and more recent highlights, alluding to Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, Bachelor in Paradise, Modern Family and This Is Us.

"I was 13 years old [watching the moon landing] and sitting in front of the television that day, it opened up a universe of possibilities. I could be anyone. I could go anywhere, even Albuquerque," Cranston said in a reference to his Breaking Bad character Walter White.

"Television has never been bigger," he added. "Television has never mattered more, and television has never been this damn good."

Cranston then cut to clips from Thrones, This Is Us, Veep, The Big Bang Theory, Killing Eve, The Masked Singer, Empire and other series.

An announcer then introduced Ben Stiller to present the first award of the evening. He continued the look back at television by leading the audience through memorable figures from TV history in what looked like a museum exhibit before he got to Bob Newhart in what Newhart called a "wax museum of comedy," where the 90-year-old comic reminded him he's still alive and joked he'd kick Stiller's ass. The two then presented the Emmy for best supporting actor in a comedy series, which was given to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's Tony Shalhoub.

Newhart wouldn't let the award be presented without lobbing another barb at Stiller, saying he "hated" the comedian in his hit film Tropic Thunder.

Later in the ceremony, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at the Emmys' decision to go without a host with Colbert sarcastically asking, "How's the old 'no host' thing going?" Kimmel continued the mock outrage by shaking his head and saying, "What a dumb idea."

"What a joke," Colbert added. The two continued to suggest that they would be the victims of awards shows' no-host trends by bemoaning a world without a host.

Fox revealed the 71st annual Primetime Emmys would proceed without a host during the Television Critics Association's summer press tour in August, with Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier saying he hoped to use the additional time they'd have without an opening monologue to honor shows airing their final seasons.

"It's our job to assess how to elevate the program … and what's interesting about this year is how many amazing shows we're saying goodbye to: Game of Thrones, Empire, Veep, Big Bang Theory — this is new to me, I've never worked on the Emmys before. You have to look at trade-offs; if you have a host and opening number, that's 15 to 20 minutes you don't have to salute the shows," Collier said. "Our production team has had to balance those trade-offs. I think it will give us more time to honor those shows."

The Emmys previously went without a host in 1998 (on NBC) and 1975 (on CBS), and the emcee-less awards ceremony follows the 2019 Academy Awards going without a host, but the film awards' move arguably came with more behind-the-scenes drama.

Nevertheless, the Oscars' ratings went up year-over-year and the show was well-received, with Collier saying last month, "The Oscars did very well. That was something we paid attention to. This is a unique year for some of America's favorite shows and producers came to conclusion that spending more time on those was the right thing to do."

The last time the Emmys, which rotates among the four broadcast networks, aired on Fox, Andy Samberg hosted, but his Universal TV-produced comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine has since been canceled by Fox and picked up by NBC.

Sept. 22, 9:30 p.m. Updated to include Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel poking fun at the no-host trend.