Tracy Morgan's Surprise Emmys Appearance Nearly Ruined By Paula Deen

Tracy Morgan Emmys 2 - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Tracy Morgan Emmys 2 - H 2015

The controversial TV chef asked to snap a photo of the comedian in the lobby of their L.A. hotel, almost wrecking weeks of meticulous planning.

A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Tracy Morgan’s touching — and covertly planned — appearance at the Emmy Awards following a June 2014 limo accident was almost ruined when he ran into Paula Deen in the lobby of their Los Angeles hotel. 

Fortunately, publicists intervened before a photo snapped by the controversial TV chef could hit social media. Morgan’s appearance, which scored a standing ovation inside the Microsoft Theater, had been kept a tightly guarded secret for weeks, after all.

Morgan flew to L.A. from New Jersey on a private plane on Saturday to avoid sightings at LAX, and few involved in the telecast were aware that he'd be doling out the night's final award. In fact, the Fox execs who got to preview host Andy Samberg’s taped bits simply were instructed to stay until the end of the show; and those at the Emmy's day-before rehearsal were told the final presenter would be a surprise.  

That Morgan ultimately got his moment left the comedian emotional. “It's been a long year,” he told THR. “And I've waited for a long time to get back on this stage.”