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My Thanks to Conan, Gary, Larry and Larry


The cleaning crew, security guards and parking lot attendants were overwhelming favorites to win this honor at The Times. So I can't tell you how blown away I was to learn that of all those nominated to write this review of the Jiminy Glick of TV awards shows--otherwise known as the 54th annual Emmys on NBC--this paper chose...

Moi? Get out! Words fail me.

However, I want to thank:

* Tux-wearing Larry David, creator and star of HBO's grand, Emmy-nominated "Curb Your Enthusiasm," for setting the proper tone by arriving at the Shrine Auditorium with his tie at a tilt, epitomizing the "social-anxiety disorder" he applies to the Larry David he plays in his series.

* Executive producer Gary Smith for a smoothly executed, crisply paced, well-conceived telecast, the exceptions being those forays into windblown oratory. That included little vignettes with stars and producers of comedy nominees praising (surprise!) their own shows.

That goes especially for the florid buildup for Oprah Winfrey, who received the first Bob Hope Humanitarian Award. It began with the industry's Ari Fleischer--Bryce Zabel, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences--throwing it to Tom Hanks, who cut loose with his own flowery tribute ("She teaches us with her intellect ... ") before introducing a slew of gaseous testimonials from such industry heavies as Tom Cruise ("You inspire me ... "). Then Oprah herself beamed down from the clouds.

Look, maybe she deserved it. She runs a nice show. But what's wrong with Ricki Lake?

* Conan O'Brien, under-sung for his work on NBC's "Late Night With Conan O'Brian," for his easy, effortless wit in his new role as Emmys host, with an enormous assist from those who wrote one of the funniest opening monologues in Emmys history. It had him following NBC's orders to develop a "love interest" during the telecast. The initial object of his lust was Jennifer Aniston of NBC's "Friends." Then he got the hots for Garry Shandling.

Here's an order: Invite O'Brien back. And the writers too.

* The few Emmy voters who agreed with me, especially those giving the miniseries Emmy to HBO's extraordinary World War II tome, "Band of Brothers." Then came a moving acceptance by real-life protagonist Richard Winters, with other surviving members of the Easy Company he commanded looking on from a Los Angeles hotel.

* Larry Wilmore, creator of Fox's "The Bernie Mac Show," whose comedy Emmy affirms that a fairly stock premise--kids upsetting the routine of surrogate parents, a la the insipid new remake of "Family Affair"--can soar when executed with originality.

* Winners who delivered terse acceptances. Take Stockard Channing (I'll take her anytime), who in receiving one of two Emmys managed to say something meaningful about humanity in a few short sentences.

* Moments of irony typified by "24" justifiably earning a writing Emmy for its pilot, even though writing ultimately became its biggest flaw as it progressed through its first season on Fox.

And irony, too, in NBC's promos for some of its worst new series invading a telecast meant to celebrate TV's best: " 'Hidden Hills' is just like your life, only funnier." If the raunchy "Hidden Hills" is like your life, then you watched the Emmy telecast while pursuing cybersex.

* For affirming that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 remain a benchmark for everything Americana, including even awards telecasts. That vivid reminder came when former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani presented the TV academy's Governors Award.

By the way, the award went to ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC for simultaneously airing the celebrated 9/11-themed special, "America: Tribute to Heroes." Granting them this honor reminded us that the TV industry's arms are never too short to pat itself on the back.

* Joan Rivers for coming through again in her flub-laden annual pre-telecast orgy that she hosts with her daughter, Melissa, on E! Entertainment. There she was with "Sex and the City" nominee Kim Cattrall.

Rivers: "And you're gonna be in off-Broadway."

Cattrall: "No, my husband and I are writing another book."

Well, whatever.

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