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Dispatch From The Emmy Awards in New York

Last night, it the glittering, carpeted expanse that is the Broadway Ballroom of the Marriott Marquis hotel in New York City, the 27th annual News and Broadcast Emmy Awards were held. The tables were packed–all the way to the back of the ballroom—and I didn’t spy too many empty seats during the entire three-hour event. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t leave the bar open in the hallway ala the Emmy’s at the Shrine in California. When I was out there this August, there was one point where I was sitting entirely alone in my row. For OVER an hour. And then some people I didn’t recognize climbed down from the nosebleed section to take pictures. But I digress…

Here in New York, I was lucky enough to have Charlie Gibson within my line of sight the entire night. He was looking resplendent in his tuxedo and trustworthy with his spectacles resting authoritatively on the tip of his nose as he politely cut his dinner. Charlie looked good, so good, in fact, that toward the end of the evening presenter Brian Williams wondered aloud from the podium how Gibson had time to get dressed after taping his broadcast. He suggested to his own producer, who was sitting at one of the NBC tables and chuckling, that perhaps ABC was so organized that they were wrapping up their day early.“I had to run the last two blocks here,” he quipped, pointing to the suit and tie he worn for his broadcast. With the rating race going strong between the three evening news broadcasts—and these two anchors exchanging a playful banter– I scanned the sea of wine glass laden tables for Katie Couric. I did not see her, but the place was pretty dark and very crowded.

As always at these events, there is a parade of giddy winners collecting golden statues, but these winners all kept their speeches mercifully short and surprisingly charming. The Academy also set aside a chunk of time to recognize the work of The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and The International Press Institute –all three of which gave lengthy speeches about the importance of, well, protecting journalists around the world.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to veteran journalist Bill Moyers. Lead speaker was Bill Small who took the stage to introduce the 90-year-old Walter Cronkite. As The Most Trusted Man in America slowly made his way to the podium, he received a standing ovation from the well-coiffed, overly perfumed crowd. As everyone settled back into their seats, however, things got a shade less glamorous when some cell phones started going off. They continued to go off at about 15 minute intervals throughout the entire evening, and I was surprised no admonishments came from the stern and familiar faces at the podium. I was also surprised so many adults have pop music ring tones. But, again, I digress….

After Cronkite's short speech, Moyers co-worker and wise-cracking wife of 52 years,Judith Davidson Moyers, introduced a short montage of her husband’s work. And I, always the sucker for the musical manipulation of a good commemorative clip reel, went all misty and was dabbing my eyes with a marigold linen dinner napkin (color theme for party watchers: blues and yellows).

After Moyers gave a rousing speech and told the endearing (pass the marigold!) tale of how he fell in love with his wife on a September day when she was 19 years old, the awards picked up again. And the clapping. And the clips. And the speeches. (For a full list of Emmy Winners, click here.)

When the night started to feel a little long—Solly Granatstein’s speeches didn’t exactly help—Brian Williams did an admirable, and quite funny, job of speeding things along, and I found myself collecting my bag at the coat check at the very respectable hour of 10pm.

By Caroline Palmer