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THE WATER COOLER / MARY McNAMARA

For Emmys telecast, the only way to go is up

Last year's show was a painful reality check.

May 27, 2009|MARY McNAMARA

Good news, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences! Unless you hire Rod Blagojevich to host, there is no possible way this year's telecast can be anywhere near as embarrassing as last year's!

Although it is a painful experience, let's briefly review 2008: After a deadly dull "introduction" from Jimmy Kimmel, the five nominees for the newly created best host of a reality TV show -- Howie Mandel, Jeff Probst, Heidi Klum, Ryan Seacrest and Tom Bergeron -- took the stage to discuss, with horrifying accuracy, the fact that they never bothered to figure out how to host the Emmys. Then they tore Klum's clothes off.

So, we've learned several things. Multiple hosts, not a good idea; tearing clothes off even Heidi Klum, not a good idea; reality show participants as host, not a good idea. (That said, I'm thinking the gals from "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" would give us quite a treat, and they'd do it with their clothes on.)

The obvious choice is to ask Ricky Gervais and/or Steve Carell, who managed to save last year's show almost single-handedly with their "give me my Emmy" riff, but Gervais actually offered to host the Oscars and they turned him down (because, one assumes, Ricky Gervais doesn't own any tap shoes), so he may be feeling a bit sensitive.

There's always Tina Fey, of course, who took the stage so often last year it certainly seemed as if she were hosting. Or Stephen Colbert, who might want to take the opportunity to offer a brief explanation of satire. But it doesn't really matter as long as it's someone who can speak in complete sentences and acknowledges the existence and importance of scripts.

As long as we're on a roll with rectifying wrongs, let's take a broader view. I'm not going to enter the ongoing debate over the ever-shifting voting procedures -- blue-ribbon panels, producer-generated essays, etc. -- because, frankly, I don't understand how it works. Heaven knows it's a daunting task to choose one performer or writer or show to be the best in a field littered with greatness (OK, maybe it's not so tough in comedy these days), but surely actually watching television on a regular basis would help.

If the majority of voters did this, they would know that it's time to get over polygamy queasiness and nominate the men and women of "Big Love." Preferably all of them. Also that Hugh Laurie should not only be nominated each and every year, he needs to win already. We cannot afford to take Hugh Laurie for granted. And how about a little much-deserved love for the men of "Weeds"? Yes, Albert Brooks was an inspired guest star this season, but Kevin Nealon and Justin Kirk are deeply and consistently hilarious, which is more important.

Let us not forget that this is the last chance to honor "Battlestar Galactica" or that "Gossip Girl" is a hit for a reason and it isn't just the nifty hairbands. Academy members might also want to consider adding a few special awards, including one that honors Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore equally for "Grey Gardens," and one that acknowledges those supporting cast members who carry their shows (that would be John Noble as "Fringe's" Walter Bishop). Remember why it is that people actually watch the medium that employs so many, so if we can have best reality host, then why not "best hallucinations" (nominees: "Grey's Anatomy," "House," "Bones") or "most horrifyingly disfigured corpse" ("Bones," "Fringe," "Harper's Island")?

It's a lot, I know, but look at it this way: You don't have to spend that much energy figuring out the host. There is something quite liberating in acknowledging that you've already hit bottom.

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mary.mcnamara@latimes.com

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