Watching television in the middle of the night (liveblogging the Emmy awards)

Not MY middle of the night, of course. Your middle of the night. Or not. Depending on where you are. Or arent. What?

Anyway. I have to watch the Emmys tonight to report back on them tomorrow. For reasons too long and complex and dull to explain (they make my brain hurt a bit), Im not liveblogging them for work this time, but because I need to get back in practice Im going to write them up here on this blog as theyre going on – because that way it gets me back in practice, gives me the discipline to keep going because its live on the internets, and give me something I can edit into a report after.

Dont worry, I might make a separate blog for these kinds of things – though most of the proper stuff on the subject will always be over at guardian.co.uk, because I get paid for it there – and if you arent interested in TV writing at all, then I advise you DO NOT read on from this point. Ill put a pretty picture in the post above for everyone else to look at (thatll be just about everyone, then) – this really is just mainly an exercise I need to do for myself right now.

OK, That said, I will explain. See, I was going to liveblog this for work, but because Im on the west coast, even though Im officially in the same timezone as Los Angeles, where this is filmed, I cant watch it until three hours after its filmed.

This was the point at which my head blew up, working this out on Thursday. Im not the best at numbers and timezones anyway – but when I realised I couldnt liveblog somehing live because it wasnt shown where I was living live because they need to be able to show it at primetime (8pm) on the East coast, so they do that and show it live in New York and the east coast, and they show it live in the other two time zones, and if anyones showing it live in Britain, it will be on that time and then on a three hour delay they show it at 8pm Pacific Time too, so thats when I can watch it, and when I can blog it. Which is annoying.

Because basically the problem is that since I cant see it till three hours later, the only people who could have followed along and commented along with me would be readers in exactly the same time zone. And we didnt think I would get very many of those. So Ill just do it here to keep in practice and wake my brain up to this again, and that will be good.

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6pm: Who are you wearing? One manicured host asks another. Were live from the red carpet – well, Im not, they are – and were just met the hosts of this evenings show. Apart from Heidi Klum from Project Runway and Ryan Seacrest off of Pop Idol USA (well, you know what I mean), and some bloke that may or may not be called Howard, I have no idea who the rest of them are. There are a couple of short guys. Im pretty sure one of them has plugs.

6.10 Of course the interesting thing about this is that while this is the Pre Awards Red Carpet Show, where people will talk to people about what dress theyre wearing and whether they think they might win an award, Ive actually been sitting here watching the Pre-Red Carpet (Pre-Award Red-Carpet show) Show from the Red Carpet. In that, they talked about what dresses people MIGHT be wearing, and what they might say if asked whether they thought they might win an award or not.

It was thrilling stuff.

The best bit was when the red carpet opened and they welcomed the first person down it – Lauren from the Hills, since you ask. I say if youre the very, VERY first person to walk down the red carpet, you know your star must be low in the firmament.

6.20: Shiny dresses are big this year. Thats my advice as a seasoned fashion expert. Shiny dresses? HUGE. The more they can look like real metal, in fact, the more popular they seem to be. If some beauticul young actress doesnt come down this red carpet in a full suit of armour by the end of the night, Im going to be very disappointed.

Probabaly would be the end of the night, I suppose. Its very heavy, armour. Theyd probably still be marching slowly toward the front door when everyone else came out.

Sorry, thats really made me laugh as a mental image.

6.25: Mariska Hargitay is wearing a canary yellow number that I sense will either be the surprise entrant on the shouldnt work but it kind of does lists or the Why has this lady climbed inside a lemon? list.

There will actually be other names on that list, too. Teri Hatcher: yellow. Several other people Ive never seen in my life before: yellow. So metallic dresses, and yellow dresses. If you can mash-up the two and just wear a gold velour number with a rain hat, I say youre totally on message. Thats certainly what Im wearing right now.

6.30pm Deborah Messing, who Im wondering might be pregnant, is wearing something involving an awful lot of netting and lace. Its some of your Nans old curtins dyed and stapled together, basically. And Im particularly vigilant of Ms Messing because I know from this weeks episode of the Rachel Zoe project that shes styled by the tiny shrieking lady with the big hair and one day, maybe thatll get back to her.

6.44pm: Ryan Seacrests microphone technique is legendary. He talks and talks and talks, eventually hits on something that could plausibly have a question mark after it, and then waves the microphone vaguely in front of the face of his interviewee.

So most of the time the conversation runs.
Ryan: So Im so glad youre here, Ive been loving your work, and youre looking amazing and this must be your wife so, you know, important things forst, the thing everyone wants to know: Whoare you wearing?
io Is all you catch as the microphone waves past their face.

9.53: Tina Fey looks lovely and not at ALL like Sarah Palin (well, maybe a bit) – shes peronally been nominated four times, her show has been nominated a record seventeen.

Thanks for making us laugh. says Ryan. We need it he says, as if the world is in dire need of comedy in these tragic times (nothing bads happened in the last hour, has it? I didnt we were that in dire need of uplifting Right Now, as a world)
Thanks for not mentioning Sarah Palin says Tina.
I was told not to. he admits But you really really look like her and sometimes when Im watching TV I cant tell whether its her or you, and
Tina Fey clearly wishes she hadnt said anything.

7.30: Sorry I got bored trying to care about what people were wearing.
Highlights along the way:
– Ricky Gervais. Not really a highlight. More a lowlight. Or that was his point, really. Three jokes about his height and a high-pitched laugh. That was about it.

– Neil Patrick Harris being lovely. Just in a Neil Patrick Harris way (when did we all stop making fun of him for being a child-doctor and start thinking he was just lovely? Was it Harold and Kumar? Because it was way before Dr Horrible, that just cemented it, didnt it?) – at the end of the interview he pulled his partner (husband? hes not married is he? not sure) onto the screen and introduced him, and you realised that he hadnt been on screen the whole time, which was a bit silly as Ryan Seacrest had made a point of interviewing EVERYONE with their husbands, wives, sisters, mothers etc.

– Really perky breasts. How do all these people manage to do a straight-faced you look awesome! interview without mentioning these pneumatic breasts. Theyve probably been trained out of it. Im not sure I could get through the first question without shouting Will you LOOK at those, though? SERIOUSLY?

– Everyone asking if Eva Longoria is pregnant. She quite clearly is.

7.40: Now, I have a long-standing problem with Tom Hanks as it is, but I could not anyway get through this without mentioning the bizarre hair-hat he seems to be wearing. Is it a hair transplant? Is it a really long mullet thats been swept-forward and then swept back in the most complex comb-over ever? Or is he actually wearing a hat made of hair? A hair-hat?

Whatever it is, its WRONG.

8pm: Finally. Hurrah! The show is opened by a collection of current stars of primetime US shows giving catchphrases from old US primetime. They are mainly recognisable, even to this Limey fool, but theyre well not very funny. Except Jeremy Piven. Who is funny just because hes Jeremy Piven.

The opening speech is given by Oprah, who waxes lyrical about the power of television to transform all our lives (Suddenly all life is in high definition – bleugh) and after a rousing ninety seconds or so she sweeps aside to welcome Oh, I see. Theyre the first five people ever to be nominated for the Best reality or gameshow host award this mixture of Seacrest and Klum and the baldie I now realise is Howard dont touch me Im a germophobe Mendel.

Theyre ALL presenting it this evening. All in matching black tie – including Heidi, neck to ankle in a dour suit.

There was a Wadda-we-gonna-do-NOW? type of sketch – which was terrible, as well as lasting about an HOUR 9or six minutes) then William Shatner came on stage to tear Heidis suit off to reveal a very nice sequinned swimsuit.

First award: Best supporting actor in a comedy series: presented by Tina Fey and Amy Poehhler, and it goes to Jeremy Piven: a gentleman wearing so much manscara and man-liner its a good thing hes not one for crying because, seriously, hed look like he was in minstrel make up if it ran, and thats Just Not On. And then theyd have to take the trophy back, and well, it would all be very bad and awkward.

8.17: The schtick of the joining segments seems to revolve around the fact theyve shipped in lots of sets from various popular shows, which leads to Ryan and um one of the others, perched slightly awkwardly on the edge of the diner booth from Seinfeld, looking like theyre trying very hard not to wrinkly their suits.

Second award: Best actress in a comedy series: is presented by Julia Louis Dreyfuss, and goes to Someone called Jean Smart – who is, it appears, played by Kim Catterall, for shes an absolute dead ringer for her, and appears in a programme that wasnt (to my knowledge, may have been on cable) shown in the UK, Samantha Who? Yes, exactly.

ARG . ok, the rest of this got lost when my computer had a bit of a fail, and then I got really naffed off and closed the entry down to private, and then I wrote the rest up in Scrivener which isn t really up to the standard of human consumption but mainly turned into this:

Last night, while you were sleeping, did you dream of spangly dresses and glittering trophies? Did you toss and turn, nightmaring in a cold sweat that an orchestra was trying to cut your dream short before youd reached your point?

If so, its likely that someone was actually beaming The 60th annual Emmy awards into your head. Which is, on reflection, quite unlikely indeed. So just in case that didnt happen for you, heres what you missed

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Well, metallics are big in the ballgown field this year, youll be glad to hear. As are jewel colours, whatever they may be, and also fringe. And we learnt all that even before the awards began, through the medium of the Pre-awards-red-carpet-show. In fact, some of it we learnt before that.

Because the interesting thing about it is that this was one of those award ceremonies so big that you not only had a pre-awards red carpet show, where people will talk to people about what dress theyre wearing and whether they think they might win an award, but also a pre-red carpet, pre-award red-carpet show, show, live from the red carpet. In that, they talked about what dresses people MIGHT be wearing, and what they might say if asked whether they thought they might win an award or not.

With such a build-up you always hope for a lot more than you get – some kind of small animals trained to dance to popular tunes while wearing costumes disguising them as popular television characters of the day.

But no. In terms of hosting and a show, believe me, you didnt miss that much while you were sleeping. After last years ceremony, where Pop Idol USA (oh, alright, American Idol, whatever) host Ryan Seacrest leapt from terrible punchiline to horrible pun; this year he was joined by four other reality show hosts – all of whom were nominated for Outstanding reality or game show host – a brand new category and one whose name didnt involve the words, youll note outstanding awards ceremony presenter. And for damned good reason.

They were terrible. Five hosts can never have struck anyone as a good idea – particularly with some who probably shouldnt be exposed to live television if it can be avoided (Heidi Klum, I love Project Runway more than I love rasberry jam, but I am looking at you, Im afraid). And then, because the limping sketches and rambling introductions go on for so long (nudge – Its your line – Oh! Anttha nonimees for outstanding ) that by the time they honour the people theyre meant to be honouring, they only have a few seconds to talk before the orchestra starts playing the Youre Boring song, and they get hustled off the stage by trophy women in pretty dresses.

Still, there were a few memorable moments – and well deserved wins. Mad Men, in the first year eligible, may have been nominated 14 times and only won two, but they were two great ones – Outstanding writing of a drama and best drama series.

30 Rock won four awards, Tina Fey picking up three. Shes getting very polished at acceptance speeches. And rightfully so, shes done a bunch – the first said funny things about being a writer (“The best thing about being an writer is that if youre at a wedding or something and someone asks what you do, theyre less interested in talking to you if you say youre a writer than if you said you were an actor or something.), the second she thanked her parents for bestowing her with confidence disproportionate to my looks or ability, which is what all parents should do and in the third she pimped her show on every channel going, from Hulu to NBC.com, to phones to airlines to occasionally, an actual television.

Not everyone embraced new media. Barry Sonnenfeld picking up the Outstanding Directing in Comedy for Pushing Daisies used up the last precious seconds of speech time with the classic B-Movie line: love TV, fear the internet.
Yes. Thats the way forward, Baz. Run away from inevitable change. Hug the past and oh, well, it is Pushing Daisies, I suppose.

Politics made many appearances throughout – mainly in references to the upcoming election and the heartfelt pleas to vote. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert – both winners for Outstanding comedy or variety things; Daily Show for best overall, Colbert Report for Best Writing. They struggled through each link and red carpet interview slyly insintuating what they do best (or just what they DO, full stop) as political gags clearly werent on host ABCs agenda.

For example, one of the many award winners for HBO miniseries John Adams – picking up the award for outstanding writing in a miniseries was getting to a point when he eulogised about being able to write about a time When articulate men articulated complex thoughts in complete sentences, and words like
When suddenly COMING NEXT on the 60th Primetime Emmy awards! The Amazing Race! Iron chef! And so much more! cut in, shouting, and the commercial break arrived.

Some things were missed. The Wire lost out on its last chance to win an Emmy – nominated for outstanding writing for the final episode of the final series, it didnt win – the emmy for writing in a Drama went instead to Mad Men. Which is also great. But it would have been nice to see The Wire win one, just one. They never have. Also, Battlestar Gallactica? Where was that? The same shows came up in every category, over and over again.

John Adams, though, might be a tip to see for people who enjoyed previous HBO dramas like Rome etc. The winner of best actor in a miniseries, was John Adams himself (not literally, it was the guy from Sideways, the real John Adams has been dead for ages)

Thanks to HBO for giving me a job, for letting me play the president, and, for the kids at home, Im living proof that anyone can play the president. Anybody. Id like to thank list of writers, producers etc here and my wife the camera cut to his wife not my real wife, I mean, my fake wife, Laura Linney wife on cutaway camera looks a little alarmed. I mean, I can see where he was going with it – he was thanking the people involved in the show rather than particularly personal people but hes still going to be in trouble for that.

Sometimes it was the things that you dont think about that surprised – The most marked thing about the outstanding writing in a comedy series is the fact that the list of nominees goes on for about 15 minutes. Since every comedy show has at least twelve writers and there are five shows nominated, it just goes on and on and on, and the true battle seemed to be who can make the VT accompanying their list of their writers the funniest. That was a tie between The Colbert Report and The David Letterman show. The Colbert Report won the prize though. Most outstanding whatever it was.

Most outstanding? What does that mean, over and above best? It just makes me think of the joke about the scarecrow. You know:
Why did the scarecrow win an award?
Because he was out standing in his field.

Ahem. The whole thing limped on – some results you were pleased to hear, some a little more baffling (and only occasionally because theyve not made it to Britain at all) and in between these shuddering, stuttering lame pun-filled links.

The best by far, of course, being the one being the one that began; Television is a very American invention
What? In cultural terms? Societal terms? Not, like, literal technical terms, right? Because John Logie ah, forget it.

Anyway, speaking of proper recognition for British for their contribution to television: Ricky Gervais was ever-present, not only nominated multiple times for the Extras Series finale, but also presenting an award, a guide to award speeches, and possibly the funniest award moment of the night with Steve Carrell, when his VT ended in the moment when Steve Carrell picked up the trophy for him last year. Look at his stupid little face says Gervais which then lead into a four minute barracking of Carrell in which he demanded his Emmy back from a straight-faced Carrell in the front row. Which, in true Gervais form, was funny, got a bit uncomfortable and then turns out to be a joke. Obviously.

More British wins – Tom Wilkinson won, for John Adams. Hurrah, marmite, yorkshire puddings and god save the queen, etc.

Eileen Atkins for Cranford – but she couldnt be there either. These may be the most prestigious television awards in the world, as we keep being told, but none of the Brits bothered to turn up. Probably had better things to do, I feel sure. Picking their dresses out for the BAFTAs, perhaps.
Even Tom Wilkinson, yes.

Most importantly, the trailer for the US Life on Mars aired during the break, though its not being aired until October, still. First thoughts? No real gags contained in the trailer, so much, apart from one so impaired by Harvey Keitels mumbling as to render it not really that funny. Still, mind open, opinions unformed, Ill get back to you when Ive actually seen it.

But the important questions belonged to the stars of US primetime. Who WERE they wearing? Was Eva Longoria a little bit pregnant or just a little bit fat? If metallics are so very in, can we expect to see anyone turning up in a full suit of armour (no, sadly)? And most importantly, if its fine to dissect every inch of what the ladies are wearing, why not the gentlemen? Because my GOODNESS Jeremy Piven was wearing enough manscara to sink a really butch spider. And Tom Hanks? I havent seen him in a while, but

Now, I have a long-standing problem with Tom Hanks as it is, but I could not anyway get through this without mentioning the bizarre hair-hat he seems to be wearing. Is it a hair transplant? Is it a really long mullet thats been swept-forward and then swept back in the most complex comb-over ever? Or is he actually wearing a hat made of hair? A hair-hat?

Honestly, if there are going to be two red-carpet shows, could they not make time for one dodgy-rug show as well?

Or something like it, but with less mistakes.
Im just putting it all up here because I dont like taking things down from my blog once theyve gone up.

xxx