Emmy From Washington

Stephen Colbert can’t seem to get a break. I have been watching the Emmy awards tonight–I know, this is a Washington blog, but I am in Washington.Colbert is getting clobbered again,losing award right and left, done in by Tony Bennett (last year it was Barry Manilow).

Sure it’s an honor to be nominated, but its a much bigger honor to win.

That was just one of the disappointments of a show that has been classy but uninspiring.

Was Ray Romano bleeped? I was listening to him and suddenly Fox cut away to a wide shot from the ceiling looking down on the audience and no sound could be heard.

Later Fox cut away from Sally Field when she was making an anti-war statement, or what was probably one.

The highlight for me was the first two minutes, when Stewie and Brian from Family Guy did a production number riffing on the show’s "freakin’ FCC" lampoon episode. The theme was, "if you want it you can find it on TV," though the best joke was probably something you can’t. 

After saying NBC wasn’t doing well and was going to bring back Seinfeld, the animated pair added that Isaiah Washington was joining the case replacing Michael Richards. The Fox camera cut to T.R. Knight (Washington’s dust-up with his former Grey’s Anatomy co-star led to his firing). Knight didn’t seem to be smiling.

That witty bit came after real-life host-light Ryan Seacrest blessedly refrained from singing after an opening monologue that reminded me of one of and SNL opening going badly.

At one point he cited the 6,000 people who surrounded him (it was an arena stage)

Another highlight: Robert Duvall got an Emmy, finally. It was for Broken Trail, a western, something of a cosmic makeup call for the Emmy he didn’t win for Lonesome Dove in 1989.

The Jersey Boys just did a great production number, so maybe the show is picking up.

Since Seacrest isn’t funny as well as not singing, Lewis Black stepped in for a patented riff, this time directed at network suits and primarily railing at promo spots, the gist of which was as follows.

"Have you forgotten what your job is. It’s to tell stories, not to tell us in the middle of the show what show is coming on next. Do want me to stop and get a pencil and write it down? Message from all of the viewers. We don’t care about the next show! We are watching this show. You destroy the drama and the comedy. Oh, and by the way, don’t clutter up the show so we can’t see who worked on the show we just watched.

"Those are the people who did the work and they deserve to see their names. They actually do the work. What is it exactly that you do except come up with bad ideas. You should go into politics.

"Oh, and by the way, those who run the news channel. Stop the crawls! It started at 9/11 when we needed all that information. Until another huge emergency, can it. When an anchor is talking about the war, we don’t care that 65% of the people feel they don’t have feelings.

The only thing you are giving us is attention deficit disorded. "

Black ended with a plug for Fox’s "blockbuster" fall schedule, which Fox proceeded to plug, tongue in cheek, with a graphic below Black as he railed against that promo.

OK, score one for Seacrest with the follow-up line: "Look for Lewis Black this fall…on valium."

Current just won the first-ever award for interactive TV, with Al Gore taking the stage, walking on carpet made from recycled bottles, so Seacrest saidearlier.

Gore got the longest applause, after the cast of Roots.

Some racy lines from Brad Garrett directed toward Joely Fisher, again closely paraphrased:

"I agree with Robert Duvall that everyone should do a western. Look for Joely and me in "Bury My Head Between Your Knees."

When Fisher asked how he liked her low-cut dress, the towering Garrett said: "It looks even better from up here. Note to self: buy milk."

"Nothing like the threat of nipple to keep the audience tuned in," replied Fisher.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.